Accelrys Inc., of San Diego, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pharmacopeia Inc., of Princeton, N.J., and Sun Microsystems Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., expanded a long-standing alliance to jointly develop Discovery Studio, Accelrys’ forthcoming platform for accelerating preclinical drug research. Discovery Studio will be based on Sun’s Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition technology standard. The companies will continue to support Sun’s existing Solaris applications and also engage in joint marketing and training efforts for these products.
Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, began the third of three planned Phase III pivotal trials of AC2993 (synthetic exendin-4), a compound being studied as a potential treatment for people with Type II diabetes. The 800-patient study will evaluate the ability of AC2993 to improve glucose control with a combination of metformin and sulfonylureas. Study participants will be randomized into three groups, two on AC2993 and one on placebo. Those on AC2993 will receive an introductory 5-microgram dose of AC2993 for one month, given by subcutaneous injection twice daily. This one-month initiation period will be followed by six months of exposure to doses of either 5 or 10 micrograms given twice daily. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 11, 2001.)
Antex Biologics Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., said it will begin dosing patients for two of the components of its combination Activax vaccine to prevent travelers’ diseases. Patient enrollment has been completed for the first component, an inactivated whole-cell vaccine for Campylobacter jejuni, and dosing will begin next week at the Naval Medical Research Center at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Medical Research. Enrollment for the second component, an inactivated whole-cell vaccine for Shigella sonnei, is expected to complete by the end of March and then dosing will begin at the Johns Hopkins Vaccine Testing Unit.
Boston Biomedica Inc., of West Bridgewater, Mass., was awarded a Phase II $701,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant for the use of its Pressure Cycling Technology to release DNA, RNA and proteins from cells and tissues, with particular emphasis on hard-to-lyse biomaterials. The funds will be used to further support ongoing commercial development work, as well as studies of new applications in life sciences for the PCT sample preparation system, which will be launched next week at Pittcon 2002, an analytical instrument exhibition in New Orleans.
CEL-SCI Corp., of Vienna, Va., presented data at the SMi Immune Disorders Conference in London that demonstrated it may be possible to develop treatment vaccines for autoimmune diseases. The senior vice president of research for cellular immunology for CEL-SCI reported that peptides based on its L.E.A.P.S. technology altered the immune responses of an autoimmune inducing antigen, which resulted in improved health in animal studies. He reported that the finding in autoimmune disease could possibly be replicated in diseases such as Type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Deltagen Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., began a drug discovery program around its first inflammatory disease target, labeled DT021I. Deltagen analyzed a G protein-coupled receptor target demonstrated to play a key role in the blocking of T-cell responses. An analysis of the mouse phenotype resulting from deleting the DT021I target suggests that the target receptor plays a key role in the priming of adaptive immune responses.
Gene Logic Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., said Artesian Therapeutics Inc., also of Gaithersburg, subscribed to Gene Logic’s GeneExpress Cardiovascular DataSuite for use as a primary reference source in Artesian’s drug discovery and development efforts in cardiovascular disease. Based on the quality of samples and corresponding data in the Cardiovascular DataSuite, researchers will be able to use the product to identify and prioritize potential drug targets, as well as identify surrogate markers for progression of cardiovascular diseases. Financial details of the multiyear agreement were not disclosed.
InKine Pharmaceutical Co. Inc., of Blue Bell, Pa., said the FDA approved the supplemental new drug application for a new formulation of Visicol tablets. Clinical data and its chemistry supplement showed the new formulation provided excellent cleansing prior to colonoscopy. The name Visicol will be unchanged but the bottle label for the new formulation, which also was approved by FDA, will bear the words “New Formulation.” The new, smaller Visicol tablet contains significantly less microcrystalline cellulose than the current formulation. InKine’s stock (NASDAQ:INKP) climbed 49 cents Thursday, or 36.6 percent, to close at $1.83.
Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., began initial dosing of patients in a Phase II trial of its investigational drug candidate KRX-101 (sulodexide) for the treatment of HIV-associated nephropathy in AIDS patients. Keryx expects to have results of the randomized, placebo-controlled, 75-patient clinical trial, which is being conducted in South Africa, this calendar year. Keryx is also discussing with the FDA beginning a Phase III study of KRX-101 for the treatment of diabetic kidney disease, an indication for which the product was given fast-track designation in August.
Labopharm Inc., of Laval, Quebec, said pursuant to the terms of the initial agreement, Aventis SA and its undisclosed partner are terminating the licensing agreement surrounding an unnamed product previously identified by Labopharm as Aventis No. 2. Labopharm said it successfully completed feasibility and formulation studies before entering into the agreement in September. The agreement was for the development of two novel formulations as part of a lifecycle management strategy.
LION bioscience AG, of Heidelberg, Germany, and GeneProt Inc., of Brunswick, N.J., entered into a three-year strategic and marketing collaboration. The companies will jointly market an integrated offering that combines their core competencies to accelerate the drug discovery and development process. GeneProt will license LION’s integration platform consisting of SRS and DiscoveryCenter software and selected LION scientific applications and will purchase related services from LION for up to $4.95 million.
Medichem Life Sciences Inc., of Woodbridge, Ill., said its stockholders approved a proposal to merge with DeCode genetics Inc., of Reykjavit, Iceland. The transaction was expected to close today. DeCode announced in January plans to acquire MediChem in a stock swap worth about $83.6 million. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 9, 2002.)
NeoTherapeutics Inc., of Irvine, Calif., presented data at the fourth American Society of Experimental Neurotherapy meeting on a new family of anti-psychotic drug candidates developed by company scientists. The two drugs, NEO-356 and NEO-377, both reversed the effects of the drug PCP on pre-pulse inhibition, similar to the reversal of these effects seen with clozapine and risperidone two commonly prescribed drugs for the treatment of schizophrenia. In a model of conditioned avoidance, NEO-356 had no negative effect on the animals’ ability to respond, while NEO-377 had slight effects, and both clozapine and risperidone had significant negative effects.
Nonlinear Dynamics Ltd., of Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK, collaborated with Amersham Biosciences, of Piscataway, N.J., the life sciences division of Amersham plc, to provide a solution allowing scientists to pick protein bands from 1-D gels for subsequent mass spectrometry. Spot picking from 2-D gels has been done for some time now, Nonlinear said, but as proteome research becomes more sophisticated, it is recognized that scientists have an increasing need to pick protein bands from 1-D gels.
Oxford GlycoSciences plc, of Oxford, UK, and BioInvent International AB, of Lund, Sweden, disclosed a three-year collaboration to identify, develop, manufacture and commercialize therapeutic antibodies. OGS will provide at least five target antigens per year. BioInvent will apply its n-CoDeR phage display library to identify antibodies targeted to OGS’s antigens. The companies will work to select and optimize therapeutic antibody candidates to take into development. BioInvent also will manufacture the preclinical and clinical material in its cGMP-certified cell culture facility. OGS will contribute research funding and will pay a technology access fee to BioInvent. BioInvent will potentially receive milestone and royalty payments. OGS will retain all commercial rights to developed products. Also, subject to the approval of the BioInvent shareholders, OGS will make an equity investment of $5 million in BioInvent at an agreed premium to the average closing price of BioInvent’s shares over the 10 days prior to the news announcement.
Pyrosequencing AB, of Uppsala, Sweden, launched the PSQ 96MA System, a multi-application sequence analysis system for applied genomics. The system’s capabilities include straightforward sequencing of cloned DNA material, the company said.
Seattle Genetics Inc., of Bothell, Wash., entered into an agreement to license certain monoclonal antibodies from Mabtech AB, of Nacka, Sweden. The agreement includes multiple antibodies that target cell surface molecules on a variety of cancer cell types. Seattle Genetics has development, manufacturing and worldwide commercialization rights to therapeutic products derived from the antibodies. It is the second agreement between the companies. In June 1998, Seattle Genetics obtained rights to a monoclonal antibody that targets CD40, an antigen expressed on various hematologic malignancies and on certain solid tumors. That antibody evolved into the product candidate SGN-14, which was subsequently partnered with Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, and now designated PRO64553. Seattle Genetics expects Genentech will enter it into clinical trials later this year in patients suffering from hematologic malignancies.
Vasogen Inc., of Toronto, said its open-label clinical trial in moderate to severe psoriasis achieved its objective of identifying an optimal treatment schedule for its immune modulation therapy. The trial enrolled moderate to severe psoriasis patients who were randomized into one of three groups, each of whom was treated with a different schedule of Vasogen’s immune modulation therapy. Overall, the study identified the treatment schedule used in patient group two as superior to that in groups one and three. The patients in group two achieved an improvement of 50 percent to 75 percent.