Akceli Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., completed its Series A financing round of $6.5 million. The company will use the funding to develop its transfected cell microarray technology. Atlas Ventures led the financing, with Apple Tree Partners also contributing. Akceli’s core technology, licensed from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, allows researchers to test the effects of drugs on a panel of cell clusters that are producing an incorrect amount of a specific protein.
Altachem Pharma Ltd., of Edmonton, Alberta, acquired an immunomodulator with anticancer properties. Altachem will issue from treasury 400,000 common shares to an undisclosed party for the compound, subject to certain development milestones being met and the receipt of stock exchange and regulatory approvals. The immunomodulator being acquired is to be used alone or in combination with Altachem’s hypocrellin-based products. Hypocrellins are administered intravenously to cancer patients and can be excited to a toxic state. The product is in late-stage preclinical work, the company said.
AltaRex Corp., of Waltham, Mass., said it saw positive primary results of its 20-patient chemo-immunotherapy study of OvaRex for the treatment of relapsed ovarian cancer in a non-randomized setting. The results were presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, in Miami. The data showed T-cell responders demonstrated a statistically significant benefit over non-responders in time to progression (p<0.0001) and survival (p=0.008), among other things.
Applied Biosystems Group, of Foster City, Calif., an Applera Corp. business, and MDS Inc., of Toronto, said the Federal District Court in Wilmington, Del., ruled in favor of Applied Biosystems and MDS Inc. in a patent infringement lawsuit against Micromass UK Ltd., of Manchester, UK, and its subsidiary, Micromass Inc., both divisions of Waters Corp. The Micromass Quattro Ultima systems were found to infringe U.S. Patent No. 4,963,736, which covers technology for triple quadrupole mass spectrometers. The jury awarded $47.5 million in damages to Applied Biosystems and MDS. The court is expected to meet next week to enter the final judgment.
Aradigm Corp., of Hayward, Calif., released results from two Phase IIb trials to assess the safety and efficacy of its morphine AERx pain management system. The system delivers aerosolized morphine via the AERx pulmonary drug delivery technology for the management of acute and breakthrough pain. More than 100 patients were treated. The data demonstrated faster onset of pain control and comparable overall pain relief when compared to immediate-release oral morphine solution in one study and comparable pain relief when compared to intravenous morphine in the second study. The results were reported at the American Pain Society’s annual scientific meeting held last week in Baltimore. Aradigm’s stock (NASDAQ:ARDM) rose 25.4 percent Monday, or $1.03, to close at $5.08.
BioMicro Systems Inc., of Salt Lake City, said Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., the University of California at San Francisco Comprehensive Cancer Center and UCLA Human Genetics have joined the list of MicroArray User Interface Hybridization (MAUI) product alpha evaluators. BioMicro expanded facilities at its Salt Lake City location to meet the growing demand for its MAUI product. Investigators at the alpha sites will test MAUI over the next several weeks to add to the results demonstrating MAUI’s significant enhancement of gene expression analysis in the drug development process.
Boston Life Sciences Inc., of Boston, initiated its Phase II study to diagnose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children using Altropane, its radio-imaging agent that targets the dopamine transporter. The 40-subject study will be performed at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. Patient enrollment is anticipated to begin the first week of April. The study will enroll children between ages of 8 and 17 who have a psychiatric diagnosis of either ADHD or one of three anxiety syndromes: generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia or separation anxiety disorder.
Cell Pathways Inc., of Horsham, Pa., said preclinical data regarding its lead compound, Aptosyn, in combination with Taxotere, were published in the March issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research. The findings show that a combination of the two drugs significantly prolonged survival, inhibited tumor growth and metastases, and increased apoptosis in a rat model of human non-small-cell lung cancer. The Phase III registration trial of this combination is ongoing. Cell Pathways’ stock (NASDAQ:CLPA) rose 21.9 percent Monday, or 91 cents, to end at $5.07.
DeCode Genetics Inc., of Reykjavik, Iceland, completed the acquisition of MediChem Life Sciences Inc., of Woodbridge, Ill. MediChem shareholders approved the merger last week, and all other closing conditions have been met. DeCode announced in January plans to acquire MediChem in a stock swap worth about $83.6 million. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 9, 2002.)
Durect Corp., of Cupertino, Calif., reported the results from a pilot Phase III trial for its lead product in development, the Chronogesic pain therapy system, for the treatment of stable, opioid-responsive chronic pain patients. Patients were safely transitioned from the Duragesic product to the Chronogesic product. During the six-week implant period, patients were evaluated for overdose and overall opioid consumption. There was no evidence of patient overdose at any point. The median reduction in opioid consumption other than from the Chronogesic product was 72 percent. Seventy-eight percent of patients reported either an improvement or no change in their pain scores. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 2, 2001.)
Enzo Biochem Inc., of Farmingdale, N.Y., responded to a complaint filed by Digene Corp., of Gaithersburg, Md., by saying: “Although the lawsuit was initiated by Digene, it actually seeks to have the court decide whether Enzo’s patent rights in the field of Hybrid Capture’ technology were and are being violated by Digene’s sale of its Hybrid Capture’ products. Enzo is the owner of the U.S. Patent No. 6,221,581 B1, issued April 24, 2001.” Enzo also said the lawsuit follows more than eight months of negotiations and meetings between the companies.
EpiTan Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, completed its first Phase I/II trial on the drug candidate melanotan. Melanotan, a 13-amino-acid peptide, stimulates the production of melanin to produce normal tanning and the company believes the product may assist in reducing sun exposure damage and thus the incidence of skin cancer. The company said the results were positive and it expects to progress to a Phase II trial in the second quarter.
Gene Logic Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., said Daiichi Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, subscribed to its genomics-based information products and services. Financial terms of the multiyear agreement were not disclosed. Daiichi’s global researchers will access the BioExpress product, which will be applied directly to Daiichi’s internal target-identification and target-validation initiatives. BioExpress consists of comprehensive genomic and clinical information derived from a broad range of normal and diseased human tissues, tissues from model animal systems and human and animal cell lines.
Hemispherx Biopharma Inc., of Philadelphia, said its researchers and Vanderbilt University presented new clinical data on Ampligen, an experimental immunotherapeutic designed to maintain control over HIV multiplication in conjunction with “HAART,” the acronym for an antiviral cocktail of multiple approved drugs used worldwide in the management of chronic HIV infection. The primary Phase IIb study endpoint is the mean total time of the HAART-free intervals before rebound of plasma HIV-1 RNA. Two types of interim data analysis were performed. In the meta analysis, no patients relapsed while on Ampligen within the first 30 days compared to 86 percent of a control group of 21 patients, resulting in a statistically significant difference (p=0.012).
HMSR Inc., of Boston, completed its merger with Point Therapeutics, went through a 1-for-10 reverse stock split and changed its name to Point Therapeutics Inc. Point Therapeutics is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Point Therapeutics Inc. HMST stock now trades under the Over-The-Counter Bulletin Board symbol POTP. Point is developing therapeutics for hematopoietic disorders and cancer treatments.
Introgen Therapeutics Inc., of Austin, Texas, said a preclinical study evaluating Advexin, its adenoviral p53 cancer therapeutic, in an anticancer vaccine strategy was published in the March 15, 2002, issue of Gene Therapy. Results showed Advexin therapy induced an antitumor response in vivo, the company said. There was no evidence of toxicity or autoimmune complications. Introgen’s stock (NASDAQ:INGN) rose 17.4 percent Monday, or 75 cents, to close at $5.05.
Maxim Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, expanded its collaborative research and license agreement with Celera Genomics Group, of Rockville, Md., an Applera Corp. business. The companies will strive to identify and develop small-molecule compounds for certain cancers. Maxim will use its screening assay to evaluate 300,000 additional compounds from Celera’s libraries for the purpose of identifying compounds that can induce apoptosis in certain cancer cells. Under the terms of the original agreement, Maxim completed screening of approximately 400,000 compounds from Celera’s proprietary libraries. Maxim has the option of jointly participating with Celera in the development and commercialization of compounds. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., is funding a study called Crusade, with plans to collect data on how more than 60,000 high-risk heart patients are treated at 600 hospitals across the U.S. The study will collect information during the next two years and provide feedback to individual hospitals on how their treatment patterns adhere to guidelines established by the ACC and AHA. Separately, results presented at the 51st annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology in Atlanta show that patients suffering from severe chest pain unstable angina or myocardial infarction experienced a statistically significant lower incidence of life-threatening outcomes when treated with a combination of Integrilin and Lovenox, compared to Integrilin and unfractionated heparin combination. The INTERACT trial included 746 patients from 54 hospitals across Canada with unstable angina or the related condition of non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction. The Integrilin and Lovenox combination was associated with 44 percent less ischemia than the Integrilin plus unfractionated heparin combination during drug infusion (14 percent with Integrilin plus Lovenox vs. 25.1 percent with Integrilin plus unfractionated heparin; P=0.0002).
Nastech Pharmaceutical Co. Inc., of Hauppauge, N.Y., received a $5 million investment from Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J., in exchange for 250,000 shares of Nastech stock. Pharmacia receives exclusive worldwide rights to develop and market nasally administered apomorphine for the treatment of male and female sexual dysfunction and will manage and fund all future development in the indications. Nastech retains certain development rights in other areas. The share purchase is pursuant to the potential $56 million agreement for the product signed in February between the companies. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 5, 2002.)
OxiGene Inc., of Watertown, Mass., said it reported findings from an independent study identifying its vascular targeting agent, Combretastatin A4 Prodrug (CA4P), as a treatment for retinopathy. Investigators said CA4P is able to cause a dose-dependent inhibition of neovascularization with no apparent side effects. Also, histological and immunohistochemical analyses indicated that CA4P permitted the development of normal retinal blood vasculature while inhibiting aberrant neovascularization. The results were published in the March 2002 edition of the American Journal of Pathology.
PerkinElmer Life Sciences, of Boston, formed a corporate partnership with NextGen Sciences Ltd., of London, resulting in the introduction of the ProteinArray Workstation, a fully automated system for processing protein microarrays. PerkinElmer will manufacture and have exclusive worldwide distribution rights to the system.
Phylonix Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Nashville, Tenn., a contract research organization, launched a family of bioassays for drug screening using zebrafish embryos. Services include general toxicity, specific toxicity, cellular activity, gene profiling, genotoxicity, pathology and behavioral studies.
Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y., reported its investigational drug, PRO 542, produced an antiviral response in HIV-infected individuals who were no longer responding to currently available antiretroviral medications. In treatment-experienced patients, a single dose of PRO 542 reduced viral concentrations by 60 percent to 80 percent, on average, for up to four weeks. PRO is a viral-entry inhibitor. PRO 542 was well tolerated and produced statistically significant (p=0.007) acute reductions in viral load across all seven patients who received a single 25 mg/kg intravenous infusion of the drug.
Symyx Technologies Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., said Polymer Laboratories, with U.S. operations in Amherst, Mass., introduced two gel permeation chromatography polymer screening systems at Pittcon 2002 in New Orleans. The systems, PL XT-20 and PL RS-20, are designed to meet the growing demand for rapid GPC screening in polymer discovery. Both instruments incorporate Symyx’s liquid chromatography and flow-injection analysis technologies. The company said that PL XT-20 and PL RS-20 will provide scientists with a technology platform to perform polymer characterization measurements such as molecular weight analysis faster than with traditional techniques.