Abgenix Inc., of Fremont, Calif., priced its previously announced private placement of $200 million aggregate principal amount of its convertible subordinated notes due 2007. Also, the company granted the initial purchasers an overallotment option for up to an additional $50 million. The notes, which will mature in five years, will be convertible into common stock at a conversion price of $27.58 per share and will accrue annually at a 3.5 percent interest rate. The transaction is expected to close March 4. Proceeds will be used for research and development, capital expenditures, working capital and other corporate purposes. Abgenix’s stock (NASDAQ:ABGX) fell $3.38 Wednesday, or 14.1 percent, to close at $20.60.
Array BioPharma Inc., of Boulder, Colo., said the underwriters of its recent public offering exercised in full their overallotment option on Feb. 25, purchasing an additional 450,000 shares of common stock at $10 apiece. The offering was made through an underwriting group managed by Lehman Brothers Inc., and co-managed by UBS Warburg LLC, Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. and Thomas Weisel Partners LLC. Following the overallotment, Array sold 3.45 million shares, resulting in net proceeds of $31.9 million. The overallotment option was granted in connection with the public offering of 3 million shares of common stock priced on Feb. 13. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 14, 2002.)
BioDiscovery Inc., of Marina Del Rey, Calif., and Genops Bioinformatics Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, entered a strategic collaboration to integrate BioDiscovery’s GeneDirector with Genops’ Ngene software and Linux cluster platform for high-throughput sequence analysis and annotation, to provide a seamless product for integrated gene expression analysis. GeneDirector incorporates a LIMS type system for sample tracking and management, as well as fully integrated database-enabled versions of BioDiscovery’s suite of products for microarray research CloneTracker for array management, ImaGene for image analysis and GeneSight for data analysis. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Caprion Pharmaceuticals Inc. and McGill University, both of Montreal, entered into a collaborative agreement to expand Caprion’s proteomics research by providing McGill financial support for proteomics research. The collaboration is aimed at incorporating technical innovations occurring at the university into Caprion’s industrial processes, and accelerating the commercialization of discoveries in the area of proteomics. Caprion will have access to certain intellectual property developed under the collaboration, and will have exclusive rights to license any proteomic technologies developed. Caprion funding to McGill for these programs could exceed $1 million in the next five years.
Corixa Corp., of Seattle, and Beckman Coulter Inc., of Fullerton, Calif., entered into a cross-licensing agreement under which Beckman Coulter granted Corixa a sublicense to its MHC Tetramer technology for use in preclinical research. In return, Beckman Coulter receives licensing fees. Corixa agreed to purchase Beckman Coulter iTAg MHC Tetramers to support clinical trials. Also, Corixa granted Beckman Coulter a license to certain patented technology, which Beckman Coulter intends to use in the development of MHC Tetramers for autoimmune disease diagnostics. In return, Corixa will receive royalty payments on any sales of products developed using the licensed technology.
Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Lexington, Mass., reported a one-year extension of its anti-infective drug discovery collaboration with Novartis Pharma AG, of Basel, Switzerland, which uses Cubist’s VITA (validation in vivo of targets and assays for anti-infectives) technology. Cubist also reported the collaboration’s third milestone, resulting in an undisclosed payment to Cubist for the delivery of another validated target and high-throughput screening assay to be used in anti-infective drug discovery. Cubist and Novartis originally entered the partnership in February 1999. As in the previous years of the collaboration, Novartis will provide Cubist with research funding throughout the fourth year. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 10, 1999.)
Diversa Corp., of San Diego, launched its DiscoveryPoint Nitrilase Platform, based on the discovery of hundreds of new sequence-unique nitrilases that comprise the platform, at the Informex 2002 conference in New Orleans. Nitrilases within the DiscoveryPoint platform have been shown to enable the synthesis of a variety of enantioselective mandelic acid and aryllactic acid derivatives, as well as intermediates for other drugs.
Enzo Biochem Inc., of Farmingdale, N.Y., reported publication in the January issue of Cancer of a scientific paper that discusses the use of Enzo’s oral immune regulation medicine in suppressing human liver cancer cell growth in experimental animals. Titled “Inducing Oral Immune Regulation of Hepatitis B Virus Envelope Proteins Suppresses the Growth of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Mice,” the paper reported that the induction of oral immune regulation in experimental animals led to the creation of specific immune cells that completely protected animals that had been inoculated with human cancer cells.
Immerge BioTherapeutics Inc., of Boston, and its scientists said they identified miniature swine that failed to produce porcine endogenous retrovirus (PERV) that can infect human cells in laboratory tests. The potential for PERV to infect humans has been a key safety concern for scientists who are developing pigs for xenotransplantation. The study appears in the March 2002 issue of the Journal of Virology.
Gilead Sciences Inc., of Foster City, Calif., said data from two studies evaluating its antiretroviral agent Viread in patients co-infected with HIV and chronic hepatitis B virus infections showed that treatment with Viread was associated with a significant reduction in serum HBV DNA levels compared to placebo. The levels were compared to placebo through 24 weeks of treatment and through 12 weeks in a second open-label study. Twelve patients received Viread and two received placebo. Following treatment, the mean change in serum HBV DNA from baseline was a reduction of 4.81 log10 copies/mL for patients receiving Viread and an increase of 1.23 log10 copies/mL for patients on placebo (p=0.04). This equates to a 99.9 percent decrease in circulating HBV DNA for patients receiving Viread.
InforMax Inc., of Bethesda, Md., released GenoMax Version 3.3, enhancing the various modules of the GenoMax enterprise bioinformatics system. Additions to the GenoMax Gene Expression Analysis Module expand the analysis and visualization capabilities to improve accuracy in mining large gene expression datasets.
Maxygen Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., established a wholly owned subsidiary, Codexis Inc., designed to move Maxygen’s chemical business unit toward independence in providing products and services to the worldwide life science and fine-chemical industry. Its technologies allow for the discovery and development of catalysts and processes for the efficient and cost-effective synthesis of valuable chemicals. Codexis said it intends to supply customers with chirally active biological and chemical catalysts, pharmaceutical intermediates and bulk actives.
Omeros Medical Systems Inc., of Seattle, said its lead drug product, OMS-103HP, provided statistically significant improvement in postoperative pain reduction, joint motion and recovery of function. Results of the double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., showed that more than three times as many OMS-103HP-treated patients met the criteria for successful pain relief while requiring lower doses of pain medication. Also, 31 percent more OMS-103HP-treated patients obtained at least 90 degrees of flexion without pain. Patients in the OMS-103HP group were able to stop using devices prescribed to increase postoperative joint motion 37 percent faster.
Orchid BioSciences Inc., of Princeton, N.J., finalized its offering announced Feb. 21 to sell 8 million newly issued shares to a select group of new and existing shareholders. Robertson Stephens Inc. served as underwriter for the offering, which raised gross proceeds of approximately $20 million. Orchid granted Robertson Stephens an option to purchase up to an additional 1.2 million shares to cover overallotments, if any. If Robertson Stephens exercises its option, additional gross proceeds of approximately $3 million would result. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 22, 2002.)
PrimeGen Biotech Corp., of San Diego, signed a deal with Agilon Products Group Inc., of Irvine, Calif., intended to expand and strengthen PrimeGen’s foothold in the stem cell and genetic research space, while also accelerating the acceptance of PrimeGen’s Cellular Replacement Therapy. PrimeGen’s president said Agilon is an ideal partner to assist his company in launching its method of nuclear transfer and process of differentiating stem cells to be reactive in all tissues throughout the adult body.
Pyrosequencing AB, of Uppsala, Sweden, opened a new West Coast office near Palo Alto, Calif. Pyrosequencing develops, manufactures and sells solutions for rapid applied genetic analysis based on its DNA sequencing technology.
Scios Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., said enrollment began for a Phase IIa trial evaluating SCIO-469, its oral p38 kinase inhibitor for rheumatoid arthritis. The multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled study will enroll 120 patients who have active rheumatoid arthritis and are receiving methotrexate. The main objective is to evaluate the safety and tolerability of six escalating doses of SCIO-469 in RA patients. The company expects to announce results in the first quarter of 2003.
Structural Bioinformatics Inc., of San Diego, said a study presented at the ninth Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle unveiled a novel computational method for predicting HIV-1 resistance to protease inhibitor drugs. Structure-based resistance prediction, developed in collaboration with Quest Diagnostics Inc., of Teterboro, N.J., found that the structure of HIV protease, an essential protein for HIV replication, was accurately determined complexed to clinically available protease inhibitors. The binding affinity of each of the seven FDA-approved HIV protease inhibitor drugs was determined by calculating the binding energy of each drug to the active site of the protease. The companies then demonstrated that the binding energy directly correlates to drug resistance measured using commercially available cell-based phenotypic resistance assays.
The Immune Response Corp., of Carlsbad, Calif., said an interim analysis of its Phase I/II study of NeuroVax in multiple sclerosis confirmed that the primary endpoint had been met (p=0.0004). A total of 20 subjects were included in the interim analysis that compared responses to peptides in Incomplete Freund’s Adjuvant (eight subjects), peptides in saline (eight subjects) and IFA alone (four subjects). The group receiving intramuscular injections of peptides in IFA (NeuroVax) demonstrated a statistically significant response as compared to the group receiving intradermal injections of peptides in saline or the group receiving IFA alone. Based on these results, the company plans to amend the trial protocol to allow all currently enrolled participants to receive NeuroVax. The company’s stock (NASDAQ:IMNR) rose 19 cents Wednesday, or 18.9 percent, to close at $1.20.