Acacia Research Corp., of Newport Beach, Calif., said its board approved a plan to divide its common stock into two classes CombiMatrix stock that would reflect the performance of its subsidiary, CombiMatrix Corp., and Acacia Technologies stock that would reflect the performance of Acacia’s media technology businesses. The plan will be submitted to the company’s stockholders for approval.

AlphaRx Inc., of Richmond Hill, Ontario, said it will undergo a 1-for-5 share consolidation of its outstanding common stock. Once the consolidation is effective, five shares of common stock will be converted and reclassified as one share of post-consolidation common stock, and each existing stock certificate will represent one-fifth the number of new shares. The new stock began trading Thursday under the symbol ALRX.

AVI BioPharma Inc., of Portland, Ore., said the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences published a study demonstrating the effectiveness of its third-generation Neugene antisense drugs when administered orally in rats. Neugene antisense compounds have been tested in more than 200 humans and have been shown to be safe, the company said. The results from the study are a step toward developing Neugene compounds as orally administered therapeutic agents, AVI said.

Biota Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., said it would apply its nucleotide chemistry knowledge and drug discovery technology toward hepatitis C, as well as other chronic viral infections, antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections and cancer. Biota has experience in nucleoside and nucleotide chemistry.

Centocor Inc., of Malvern, Pa., said Remicade (infliximab) was designated for priority review by the FDA as a monotherapy for inducing and maintaining clinical remission in patients with moderately to severely active Crohn’s disease. Centocor submitted a supplemental biologics license application to the FDA in December, based on 54-week data from the Accent trial. The trial was, the company said, one of the largest Crohn’s disease studies ever conducted. Remicade is approved for short-term use for the reduction of signs and symptoms of Crohn’s disease in patients with moderate to severely active Crohn’s disease who have had an inadequate response to conventional therapy.

Cyclacel Ltd., of Dundee, Scotland, said it entered a three-year research collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, which includes exclusive licensing to Cyclacel of the university’s Lidaeus in silico screening software program. Cyclacel and the university will jointly apply drug design techniques, including computational biology, X-ray crystallography, NMR structure, and computational and combinatorial chemistry, to the discovery of molecules.

Geospiza Inc., of Seattle, received a $1.1 million Small Business Innovation Research grant to continue its collaboration with Southwest Parallel Software to re-engineer Phrap, a program in genomic sequencing and single nucleotide polymorphism discovery. Phrap, the company said, was used in completing the draft version of the Human Genome Project.

Gilead Sciences Inc., of Foster City, Calif., and Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., of Nutley, N.J., said the European Committee for Proprietary Medicinal Products recommended granting Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) marketing authorization in the European Union for the treatment of influenza in children and adults, and the prevention of influenza in adolescents and adults. Tamiflu is available in more than 40 countries, including the U.S.

ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cost Mesa, Calif., said its subsidiary, Ribapharm Inc., filed an amended S-1 form with the SEC to proceed with an initial public offering of 26 million shares, up from 20 million. It has set its range for the shares at $13 to $15. At that range, the offering would raise between $338 million and $390 million. The company filed for its IPO in June 2000. (See BioWorld Today, June 16, 2000.)

Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., said HepaSense Ltd., its joint venture with Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, initiated a Phase II trial of ISIS 14803 in patients with chronic hepatitis C. The trial will evaluate the compound, which is an antisense drug that inhibits hepatitis C virus replication, when administered by intravenous infusion. HepaSense expects to enroll 40 patients at six sites in the U.S.

Massachusetts General Hospital, of Boston, said its scientists have been studying South San Francisco-based Genentech Inc.’s monoclonal antibody herceptin and discovered anti-angiogenic properties in the breast cancer drug. The data, reported in the March 21, 2002, issue of Nature, show that herceptin can reduce diameter and volume of tumor blood vessels, slow tumor growth and prolong survival in animal models of cancer. The data also show that herceptin targets multiple factors secreted by cancer cells that maintain the tumor’s blood supply. Herceptin is known to block the receptor HER2 on breast cancer cells and is used to treat women whose tumors produce extra copies of HER2, a more aggressive form of the disease.

Nastech Pharmaceutical Co., of Hauppauge, N.Y., said interim results from its Phase I trial demonstrated the successful nasal delivery of Interferon beta-1a. Nastech said the research might provide multiple sclerosis patients with an easy-to-use, noninvasive alternative to injectable Interferon beta. Interferon beta is used to reduce the frequency and severity of relapses in people suffering from multiple sclerosis.

Nymox Pharmaceutical Corp., of Maywood, N.J., said its product, NX1207, showed progress in preclinical studies. The compound, designed to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, showed efficacy in animals without any significant toxicity or side effects. The company plans to target the drug for human testing sometime in 2002.

Ontogen Corp., of Carlsbad, Calif., said its subsidiary, Ontogen Discovery Systems, presented findings on OntoCHROM, its semi-preparative scale supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC) system, including its benefits over existing high-performance liquid chromatography. The presentation, given at Pittcon 2002 in New Orleans, covered chromatographic performance of high-throughput compound purification methods, compatibility with drug-like classes of compounds and benefits of SFC-based approaches in drug discovery processes by the elimination of false positives.

SangStat Medical Corp., of Fremont, Calif., said Thymoglobulin (Anti-thymocyte Globulin, [Rabbit]) improved both nonrelapse mortality and overall survival of leukemia patients undergoing unrelated donor bone marrow transplant in a study published by the Nature publication, Bone Marrow Transplantation. The nonrelapse mortality was significantly lower (p=0.005) in patients who received Thymoglobulin prior to transplant than in patients who did not. Overall survival was significantly improved (p=0.03) for patients who received Thymoglobulin. In the U.S., Thymoglobulin is indicated for the treatment of renal transplant acute rejection, in conjunction with concomitant immunosuppression.

Seattle Genetics Inc., of Bothell, Wash., initiated its first Phase I trial with the therapeutic monoclonal antibody SGN-30 for the treatment of hematologic malignancies. The study will evaluate SGN-30 in patients with afflictions such as Hodgkin’s disease, anaplastic large-cell lymphoma and certain other lymphomas. SGN-30 targets CD30, a cell surface receptor.

Transition Therapeutics Inc., of Toronto, confirmed data showing that its interferon combination therapy is more efficacious than the existing interferon therapy for multiple sclerosis in the traditional experimental allergic encephalomyelitis model. The data confirm Transition’s previous findings that the interferon combination therapy was three to five times more effective than interferon alone in a demyelinating transgenic mouse model, the company said.