Agilix Corp., of New Haven, Conn., completed its second round of financing, raising about $7 million, bringing its total for the Series B preferred stock private round to $28 million. Agilix closed the first portion of the Series B in December. SAIC Venture Capital Corp. and Temasek Capital joined other second-round investors, including Burrill & Co., Hambrecht & Quist Capital Management, Stephens Group Inc., Wheatley MedTech Partners and BioVeda. Stephens Inc. acted as placement agent. Agilix is applying its FAAST system for whole-genome transcription analysis to drug discovery for its pharmaceutical partners and its ZeptoLabeling technology to proteomics drug discovery applications. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 19, 2001.)
Alpha Innotech Corp., of San Leandro, Calif., and Panomics Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., entered a strategic alliance to jointly market their respective FluorChem fluorescence and chemiluminescence imaging system and the TranSignal chemiluminescence-based membrane array products. TranSignal Arrays can be used to study TF activation in a variety of biological processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation, transformation, apoptosis and drug treatment. The FluorChem imaging system provides a digital alternative to film for acquiring and analyzing chemiluminescent-labeled blots or arrays.
Anadys Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, was awarded a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health titled “Rational design of antibiotics targeted at the ribosome.” The $225,000 Phase I award will be used for work on identifying novel antibiotics using structure-assisted drug design to discover and optimize small molecules that bind to and disrupt the function of the bacterial ribosome, a large riboprotein complex essential for survival in bacteria.
Cambridge Antibody Technology Group plc, of Melbourn, UK, named Peter Chambre its new CEO, effective in April. He also will join the board. Chambre was chief operating officer of Celera Genomics Group, of Rockville, Md., until November 2001. Chambre is replacing David Chiswell, who founded the company. CAT said in November that Chiswell would leave, and that taking it forward to becoming profitable required a different skill set than running an R&D-focused start-up.
Cell Pathways Inc., of Horsham, Pa., reached an agreement in principle with plaintiffs to settle all claims in the consolidated stockholder class action litigation filed in 2001. The settlement, subject to approval by the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, among other things, calls for 1.7 million shares of Cell Pathways stock to be issued and a sum of $2 million. Based on Friday’s closing price of $4.74, the stock issue is valued at about $8.1 million. In connection with the settlement, Cell Pathways’ insurance carrier will pay $2 million. The company “vigorously” denies allegations of any wrongdoing, but it said settling the suit was in the best interest of its stockholders.
Curis Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said findings published in Experimental Neurology show that the treatment with the Sonic Hedgehog protein (Shh), under development by Curis, reduced behavioral impairments and neural loss in a model of Parkinson’s disease. Behavior was analyzed for several weeks after a model brain injury. Administration of Shh was found to significantly reduce deficits in multiple behavioral tests and to cause preservation of the dopaminergic nerve fibers normally lost in this model. In addition to studies on Shh protein, Curis has identified and optimized novel small-molecule compounds that mimic effects of the Shh protein in the brain, and also represent potential Parkinson’s therapeutics.
Cypress Bioscience Inc., of San Diego, launched its Phase II program for milnacipran, a drug candidate for the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Patient recruitment for the U.S. trial is expected to begin in March, with a goal of enrolling approximately 200 patients by the end of the year. Both spontaneous and evoked pain will be measured throughout the trial, and Cypress said it has developed improved methodologies for testing each. Cypress licensed the North American rights to develop and market milnacipran for the treatment of FMS and related chronic pain syndromes from Pierre Fabre Medicament, the pharmaceutical division of BioMerieux Pierre Fabre, of Paris.
CytRx Corp., of Atlanta, received a $1 million milestone payment from Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., pursuant to Merck’s license of CytRx’s TranzFect technology. TranzFect is incorporated in a DNA-based HIV vaccine being developed by Merck that has entered Phase I trials, triggering the milestone. The studies are designed to evaluate the vaccine’s safety, tolerability and immunogenicity.
Gene Logic Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., launched its GeneExpress product, the GeneExpress CNS (Central Nervous System) DataSuite, at the annual Genome Tri-Conference in Santa Clara, Calif. The product consists of gene expression information gathered from psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseased human brain tissue, representing CNS disease states such as depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. These data are integrated with patient, clinical and experimental descriptions.
Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, and the nonprofit organization Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC(2)), will collaborate to develop new therapies specifically designed to treat patients with brain cancer. ABC(2) will share development expenses and provide access to its resources, including relationships with researchers and clinicians. Genentech will design and develop the therapeutics. Genentech would commercialize any resulting products and ABC(2) would receive a royalty on product sales.
Gilead Sciences Inc., of Foster City, Calif., reported 48-week efficacy and safety data from a Phase III trial of its one-tablet, once-daily antiretroviral agent Viread (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) for the treatment of HIV infection. Study results showed that highly treatment-experienced HIV-infected patients who received Viread 300 mg in addition to existing antiretrovirals achieved a significant HIV RNA reduction, durable through 48 weeks. The double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial included 550 patients in North America, Europe and Australia. Viread was approved for the treatment of HIV infection in the U.S. in October 2001 and was approved earlier this month in Europe.
Iconix Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Mountain View, Calif.; Incyte Genomics Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif.; and MDS Pharma Services Inc., of Montreal, commercially launched DrugMatrix, a research tool in chemogenomics that enables researchers to select quality leads and drug candidates at the earliest stages of drug discovery and development. The first commercially available version of the DrugMatrix product to be released this month includes chemogenomic profiles on more than 300 pharmaceutical drugs, failed drugs, known toxicants and standard biochemicals. The DrugMatrix content is available through a web-based user interface enhanced by data mining tools.
Organogenesis Inc., of Canton, Mass., said it is realigning its resources to focus on two areas: living skin substitutes and bioengineered surgical products. The company will cut its work force by 16 percent and expects to save about $5 million for the year. Also, Organogenesis said it will seek third-party funding for its coronary vascular graft, liver-assist device and pancreatic islet cell transplantation programs.
Panacos Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., said it found evidence of new targets for HIV fusion inhibitor discovery. Panacos reported that peptide-based inhibitors of HIV fusion appear to act by a mechanism different than previously thought. The findings have implications in the discovery of small-molecule viral fusion inhibitors.
Paradigm Genetics Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., and Duke University Medical Center, of Durham, N.C., signed a multiyear collaborative research agreement to apply metabolomics in drug discovery and development. Paradigm and Duke will research multiple disease areas to identify and validate novel drug targets for drug discovery, as well as discover new biomarkers for use in predictive medicine. Cardiovascular disease will be the first project of the collaboration. Studies, which will apply Paradigm’s metabolomics platform, MetaVantage, are set to begin this quarter. Terms were not disclosed.
Pharsight Corp., of Mountain View, Calif., named Michael Perry president and CEO, while current President and co-founder Art Reidel will remain as chairman of the board. Perry was most recently worldwide head of research and development for Baxter Global BioPharmaceuticals, of Deerfield, Ill. Pharsight uses computer-based drug-disease models, predictive market models, clinical trial simulation and advanced valuation models to create an evolving view of development efforts and product portfolios for customers to improve their drug development and commercialization processes.
Synsorb Biotech Inc., of Calgary, Alberta, and Biopure Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., are subjects of separate class action lawsuits. The complaint against Synsorb alleges the company violated the federal securities laws by issuing materially false and misleading statements concerning its Synsorb-Cd program for Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea. Biopure is alleged to have issued materially false and misleading statements concerning the likely timing of filing its biologics licensing application with the FDA to market Hemopure, a blood substitute for patients undergoing elective surgery.
The Degussa Group, of Dusseldorf, Germany, will acquire Genset Oligos, the oligonucleotide division of Genset SA, of Paris, for US$21.5 million, and merge it with Proligo, its Boulder, Colo.-based subsidiary. The addition is aimed at making Proligo a fully integrated supplier of nucleic acid specialties. The acquisition also will provide Proligo with an immediate global sales channel for its highly specific products. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the first quarter.
VaxGen Inc., of Brisbane, Calif., and Celltrion Inc., of Seoul, South Korea, a group of South Korean investors, will jointly invest approximately $120 million to build and operate a facility in Incheon, South Korea, to manufacture VaxGen’s AIDS vaccine, AidsVax. The venture also will fund a smaller facility in South San Francisco. Both facilities will be used for commercial manufacture of the vaccine if it is licensed by the FDA. Celltrion consists of Nexol Corp., Korea Tobacco & Ginseng Corp. and J. Stephen & Co. Ventures Ltd. VaxGen will provide mammalian cell culture technology and biologics production expertise to Celltrion, but no cash, in exchange for a 44 percent interest in the joint venture, making VaxGen the single largest shareholder.