Agencourt Bioscience Corp., of Beverly, Mass., was selected to provide genomic services for cancer research at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. Under a contract funded through the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Genome Anatomy Project, Agencourt will use its Solid Phase Reversible Immobilization technology to aid researchers in determining the molecular anatomy of normal, precancerous and cancerous cells. All resources generated by the project are publicly accessible.
AlgoRx Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cranbury, N.J., completed the acquisition of PowderJect Lidocaine, a late-stage pain therapeutic, as well as all assets of PowderJect Pharmaceuticals plc’s Fremont, Calif.-based manufacturing facility. AlgoRx also has licensed rights to commercialize the needle-free PowderJect technology for all nonvaccine drug applications. AlgoRx issued shares valued at $10 million to Oxford, UK-based PowderJect Pharmaceuticals plc. (See BioWorld Today, March 19, 2002.)
Astex Technology Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, received the first milestone payment from AstraZeneca AB, a subsidiary of AstraZeneca plc, of London, as part of a structural biology research agreement focused on solving human cytochrome P450 crystal structures. The payment is related to Astex’s determination of the first 3-D structure of a human cytochrome P450 enzyme, announced at the end of last year. Astex said determination of the structures of additional human P450s continues.
BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Birmingham, Ala., completed patient enrollment in the first Phase III trial of once-a-day orally administered peramivir (RWJ-270201), BioCryst’s influenza neuraminidase inhibitor. The multicenter, Phase III trial was completed in the U.S. during the 2001-2002 influenza season. The trial is designed to assess the efficacy and safety of peramivir for the treatment of acute influenza A and influenza B infections in otherwise-healthy adults. BioCryst expects to release preliminary data during the third quarter.
Cel-Sci Corp., of Vienna, Va., and the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine presented animal protection data against herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) infection at the American Society of Microbiology Conference on Immunity to Bacterial, Viral and Protozoal Pathogens in Savannah, Ga., last weekend. Research found that after immunization with Cel-Sci’s herpes simplex immune product, the appearance of lesions was delayed by two days, although vaccination also prevented lesions in 60 percent of the mice, whereas all nonvaccinated mice had lesions. The mice also had fewer disease symptoms. More than 80 percent of vaccinated mice survived, while all nonvaccinated mice died.
DepoMed Inc., of Menlo Park, Calif., entered a definitive agreement for the sale of 2.3 million shares of newly issued common stock to new and existing institutional and other accredited investors for $8.8 million. DepoMed plans to use the funds to continue the Phase III trial of its once-daily Metformin GR product for Type II diabetes and the Phase II trial of its once-daily Ciprofloxacin GR product, both of which are based on DepoMed’s gastric retention drug delivery platform. Fahnestock & Co. Inc., of New York, acted as the placement agent.
Disease Sciences Inc., of Boca Raton, Fla., merged with IceWEB Communications Inc., of Herndon, Va. Disease Sciences is a developmental-stage biopharmaceutical/clinical diagnostics company. IceWEB, a rich-media Internet company, will become a wholly owned subsidiary of DSSC. DSSC’s business plan provides for the development of drugs through its subsidiary, HealthSpan Sciences Inc., which is developing small-molecule pharmaceutical products that fight age-related or degenerative diseases by attacking the underlying biochemical origins of degenerative processes. Financial terms of the merger were not disclosed.
Dynavax Technologies Corp., of Berkeley, Calif., initiated a Phase I study with Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care to evaluate the safety and tolerability of a new cancer therapy combining, for the first time, an immunostimulatory DNA sequence with a monoclonal antibody therapy for the treatment of B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Dynavax said the study’s objective is to produce data on the compound’s pharmacokinetics and on biological response markers. Dynavax plans to use the data to select an appropriate dosage for further development of the compound in a blinded Phase II study. Results are expected by late 2002 or early 2003.
Evotec OAI AG, of Hamburg, Germany, and SiReen AG, of Munich, Germany, signed a drug discovery and development agreement to identify and synthesize small-molecule therapeutics. Evotec will perform assay development, screening and chemical synthesis for up to four targets over the next three years, during which time it will have access to SiReen’s technologies. SiReen will access Evotec’s chemical synthesis platform to support the development of protein family-specific compound libraries. For the initial program, SiReen will pay service fees to Evotec, which will receive an equity stake in SiReen. Both companies will receive milestone and royalty payments for services provided.
GB Therapeutics Ltd., of Kingston, Ontario, provided a portion of the funding for a $500,000 research grant to support collaboration between scientists at Queen’s University and the National Research Council, into the mechanisms of nitrate drug action. Funding also was provided by the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council and the National Research Council. Nitrates under development by GB Therapeutics provide benefits such as cellular protection and cognition enhancement, with future applications in the treatment of heart attack, stroke and epilepsy, the company said.
InKine Pharmaceutical Co. Inc., of Blue Bell, Pa., modified its co-promotion agreement with Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cincinnati. The Procter & Gamble gastrointestinal sales force will continue to promote Visicol to gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons until Dec. 31, at which time both parties may choose to extend the collaboration. Also, in an effort to further align InKine’s sales goals with Procter & Gamble’s operational goals, the agreement was modified to incorporate incentives tied to prescription growth with the launch of the new Visicol formulation. InKine will continue to retain all marketing rights and control of Visicol.
Large Scale Biology Corp., of Vacaville, Calif., said its new Plurigen CM stem and progenitor cell growth factor formulation is available. Plurigen CM was developed to induce the proliferation of human bone marrow, cord blood- and adult peripheral blood-derived stem and progenitor cells, and to provide a new research tool to investigators in several biomedical fields.
Molecular SkinCare Ltd., a company spun out of the University of Sheffield, raised approximately $1.7 million after completing its first round of institutional funding. Sitka HealthCare VCT plc, of London, invested in the round. Molecular SkinCare was founded to take therapeutics initially in treating psoriasis, cancer and atopic eczema to Phase I/II trials before licensing them to larger biotech and pharmaceutical companies.
MorphoSys AG, of Munich, Germany, said Centocor Inc., of Malvern, Pa., exercised an option to expand its existing agreement. Centocor increased its funded research at MorphoSys and also ordered AutoCAL, the MorphoSys-developed system for automated screening of antibodies. MorphoSys and Centocor signed a five-year agreement in December 2000 that focuses on the generation of human antibodies in therapeutic and genomics research applications. Centocor received an option for up to 30 therapeutic target molecules against which MorphoSys will make optimized fully human antibodies using HuCAL. MorphoSys also provided Centocor with its HuCAL antibody library to generate antibodies against various Centocor targets and expressed sequence tags in its functional genomics programs.
Nobex Corp., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., entered a collaboration with Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J. Medicinal chemistry developed by Nobex will be used to modify an undisclosed Pharmacia protein to improve its oral delivery in pill or liquid form. Nobex will chemically modify the Pharmacia protein by attaching low-molecular-weight pure polymers at specific sites on the drug to create one or more new compound candidates. Pharmacia will fund research at Nobex and has an option to license the Nobex-modified drug at the completion of the study. Specific financial terms were not disclosed.
Oncosis Inc., of San Diego, established a sponsored research agreement with James Leary and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Texas. The agreement will include development of the company’s Photosis technology platform, an automated laser-based cell treatment system for clinical and genomic applications. The goal of the research effort is ultra-high-speed isolation of adult human stem-progenitor cell subsets of gene expression microarray analyses and subsequent study of the effects of the HIV virus on stem-progenitor cells in the progression of AIDS. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Protherics plc, of Cheshire, UK, was informed by the third party responsible for freeze-drying and filling of CroFab, a rattlesnake antivenom, that the March supply of the product due for delivery to Protherics’ U.S. marketing partner has been delayed by approximately two months due to the freeze-drying and filling process not meeting the specified quality assurance standard. The supplier has identified and addressed this issue. No other Protherics products are affected, the company said.
Rosetta Biosoftware, of Kirkland, Wash., a business unit of Rosetta Inpharmatics Inc., licensed its Rosetta Resolver Gene Expression Data Analysis System to Abbott Laboratories Inc., of Abbott Park, Ill. The system is a bioinformatics solution for gene expression research developed by Rosetta and exclusively distributed by Agilent Technologies Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Samyang Corp., of Korea, said the FDA gave its approval of the company’s investigational new drug application to begin Genexol-PM Phase I trials in patients with refractory cancer. With assistance from GloboMax LLC, of Hanover, Md., Samyang said it demonstrated in nonclinical studies that Genexol may benefit these patients. Genexol is a new formulation of the anticancer drug paclitaxel.
Sanguine Corp., of Pasadena, Calif., signed agreements to secure new equity funding. The funding agreements, based on the issuance of callable warrants that may provide an initial equity investment of up to $500,000, were arranged through the Entelechy Program, a service of Chapman Spira & Carson LLC, of New York. The funds are intended to support Sanguine’s operations during its next phase of development, including international initiatives to provide a revenue stream of licensing royalties from Sanguine’s flagship product, PHER-O2, an advanced oxygen-carrying synthetic substitute for human red blood cells.
Scitegic Inc., of San Diego, released the Pipeline Pilot version 2.0 for drug discovery informatics research. The software system allows researchers to define and perform complex analysis and processing operations on data sets in real time. Scitegic develops and markets informatics software.
Sequella Global Tuberculosis Foundation, of Rockville, Md., said that through its tuberculosis vaccine collaboration program, funded with $25 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, SGTBF reached agreement on three clinical partnerships to develop TB vaccines that will intervene at three different phases of the disease. The partnerships are with the University of California at Los Angeles; Intercell AG, of Vienna, Austria; and Sequella Inc., of Rockville, Md. The agreements mark progress in the field testing of the first new tuberculosis vaccines in more than 80 years.