Accelrys Inc., of San Diego, reported the availability of five Accelrys software products on IBM eServer pSeries systems running AIX. These are the first product releases stemming from the global strategic alliance between IBM and Accelrys. The applications are geared toward drug discovery and bioinformatics.
Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cheshire, Conn., completed enrollment in its first Phase II trial in patients with a severe form of kidney disease, known as membranous nephritis, who are being treated with its anti-inflammatory C5 inhibitor antibody, 5G1.1, now called eculizumab. Separately, Alexion received orphan drug designation from the FDA for the use of eculizumab for this disease. The Phase II multicenter, double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled study examines the safety and efficacy of repeated doses of eculizumab over four months. Alexion also said it began dosing in a follow-on, open-label extension study of the antibody in these patients, designed to examine long-term safety and tolerability.
Alkermes Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., signed an agreement with Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Co. that provides for an investment by Lilly in Alkermes’ commercial-scale production facility for inhaled pharmaceutical products based on Alkermes’ AIR pulmonary drug delivery technology. The facility will have the capability to produce multiple products and is under construction in Chelsea, Mass. Alkermes and Lilly are collaborating on the development of inhaled formulations of insulin for diabetes. Lilly will make an investment in the Chelsea facility to fund pulmonary insulin production and packaging capabilities. If inhaled formulations of insulin are developed successfully and are commercially launched, Lilly will purchase product from the facility. (See BioWorld Today, April 3, 2001.)
Amarin Corp. plc, of London, said its subsidiary, Amarin Development AB, of Malmo, Sweden, will establish a strategic technology partnership with NanoCarrier Co. Ltd., of Chiba, Japan. The partnership’s goal is to develop controlled-release technologies for use in pharmaceutical products, and the companies will share the costs of development together with any resulting commercial benefits. Initially, the collaboration will focus on the feasibility of developing a technology for the oral controlled release of nanoparticles, using Amarin’s Diffusion Controlled Vesicle controlled-release technology and NanoCarrier’s micellar nanoparticle controlled-release technology.
Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, reported the exercise by its underwriters of an overallotment option to purchase 1.57 million shares of common stock associated with its follow-on stock offering that priced on Feb. 11. Including the overallotment shares, the offering totaled 12 million shares at $8 per share, resulting in expected net proceeds to the company of about $91 million. The joint lead managers for the offering were Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 31, 2002, and Feb. 13, 2002.)
Applied Genetic Technologies Corp., of Alachua, Fla., completed a license agreement with Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore for use of adeno-associated virus gene therapy vectors in muscle tissue. The agreement gives AGTC the right to develop the AAV technology for injection into human muscle tissue for potential therapy of alpha-l antitrypsin deficiency and Pompe’s disease.
AtheroGenics Inc., of Atlanta, completed a Phase I trial demonstrating the safety of AGIX-4207, its lead oral compound for rheumatoid arthritis. The results in 48 healthy volunteers indicated that it was well tolerated over the single and multiple dose ranges studied. AtheroGenics plans to initiate a Phase II efficacy study in patients with rheumatoid arthritis in the second quarter.
BioMicro Systems Inc., of Salt Lake City, entered agreements with the National Cancer Institute, the Huntsman Cancer Institute and the Buck Institute for Age Research to evaluate its Microarray User Interface (MAUI) hybridization product. The alpha sites will test BioMicro’s MAUI microfluid analysis product used to expedite the drug discovery process by obtaining results from microarray hybridization.
Atugen AG, of Berlin, signed a technology evaluation agreement with Kinetek Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, which focuses on the discovery and development of selective signal transduction inhibitors in cancer and inflammatory diseases. Kinetek will evaluate the application of Atugen’s target-validation technology in its research and development efforts in oncology. Atugen will optimize its GeneBloc and cellular delivery technologies in specific cell lines to knock down the expression of a number of signal transduction kinase targets identified by Kinetek. Subsequently, Kinetek will use the optimized GeneBloc molecules to validate the gene function of these targets using its proteomics technologies. Financial details were not disclosed.
Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany, and Aventis Pharma SA, of Antony, France, signed a nonbinding letter of intent to establish a joint venture for biological products. The companies plan to combine Bayer’s Biological Products Business Group with Aventis’ subsidiary, Aventis Behring. Bayer will own a majority interest and have operational control. Included are the marketing rights to factor VIII products that will continue to be manufactured by Bayer using genetic engineering techniques. Bayer will have the option to acquire the remaining interest at a later date. Bayer’s biological group, headquartered in Research Triangle Park, N.C., has products that are derived from blood plasma. Aventis Behring focuses its research and development efforts on proteins from human blood plasma.
BioSeek Inc., of Burlingame, Calif., raised $8.4 million in its first round of venture financing. The Series A round investors included Bay City Capital, Fremont Ventures, SImile Investors LLC and Vanguard Ventures. BioSeek’s president and CEO said the money will allow it to aggressively develop and exploit its platforms for functional genomics and drug discovery.
Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., completed a cash tender offer by Manon Acquisition Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Chiron Corp., for all the outstanding common stock of Matrix Pharmaceutical Inc., of Fremont, Calif. The tender offer expired as scheduled on Tuesday. Based on preliminary information, a total of 22.7 million shares representing about 86 percent of the outstanding common stock of Matrix were validly tendered, Chiron said. Chiron, Manon and Matrix entered into a merger agreement pursuant to which Manon began on Jan. 14 an all-cash tender offer for all of Matrix’s outstanding common stock at $2.21 per share. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 8, 2002.)
ChromaVision Medical Systems Inc., of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., entered an agreement with Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., to support the clinical development of Abbott’s cancer compounds targeting tumor angiogenesis. ChromaVision’s imaging solution technology, Automated Cellular Imaging System, rare-event detection capability and ChromaVision-labeled antibodies and reagents will be employed in the research and assessment of the efficacy of Abbott’s developmental anti-angiogenic compounds.
Ciphergen Biosystems Inc., of Fremont, Calif., said it sold multiple ProteinChips systems to hospitals, universities and government agencies in China, which intend to focus their initial use of the systems on protein expression profiling in a variety of diseases to develop predictive diagnostic tests. Ciphergen also established a formal relationship with the Universities Confederated Institute for Proteomics, established by the Chinese government in May 2001. The company also agreed to provide priority technical assistance to UCIP members, which include many of the medical colleges and universities in China.
CombiMatrix Corp., of Mukilteo, Wash., a majority-owned subsidiary of Acacia Research Corp., was awarded a Phase I National Institutes of Health grant for the development of its protein biochip technology. The title of the grant is “Self-Assembling Protein Microchips.” The grant is in addition to a three-year Phase I and a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Department of Defense for the development of multiplexed chip-based assays for chemical and biological warfare agent detection.
EraGen Biosciences Inc., of Madison, Wis., named Irene Hrusovsky president and CEO and appointed her to the board. She is a former executive of GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London, where she served as vice president, general medicine/medical marketing strategy, clinical operations. Prior to her position at GSK, Hrusovsky spent more than 20 years at Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill. EraGen licenses bioinformatics, drug screening platforms, nucleic acid and genotyping technologies for clinical diagnostic and life science research applications.
Illumina Inc., of San Diego, signed an agreement with Amersham Biosciences, the life sciences business of Amersham plc, of London, granting Illumina a nonexclusive worldwide license under five fundamental patents involving engineering designs and methods for confocal scanning for use with its BeadArray product line. Additional terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
ImmunoGen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., signed an exclusive product license for use of ImmunoGen’s maytansinoid tumor-activated prodrug (TAP) technology with Millennium’s MLN591 antibody. This triggers Millennium’s payment of a product-licensing fee to ImmunoGen. In March 2001, the companies announced the formation of a collaboration that provides Millennium with access to ImmunoGen’s TAP technology and enables Millennium to obtain exclusive product licenses for a restricted number of specific antigen targets. MLN591 is directed toward the extracellular domain of the prostate-specific membrane antigen. ImmunoGen’s TAP technology couples the company’s anticancer agents with tumor-targeting antibodies to achieve antibody-directed killing of cancer cells. (See BioWorld Today, March 7, 2001.)
Molecular Diagnostics Inc., of Chicago, and Esoterix Inc., of Austin, Texas, said Esoterix will use Molecular Diagnostics’ In-Cell HPV probe for an upcoming clinical trial of new approaches to identify patients with cervical cancer. The In-Cell HPV probes are designed to detect messenger RNA of the E6 and E7 oncogenes, and provide an alternative to HPV DNA testing to screen women with HPV infections.
ProteoTech Inc., of Kirkland, Wash., received funding totaling $2.78 million from the National Institute of Aging for two research programs. The programs are designed to lead to therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of brain amyloid protein deposits present in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It also is designed to create a closer understanding of the mechanisms involved in Alzheimer’s amyloid brain plaque formation and persistence.
Samaritan Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Las Vegas, said that Georgetown University in Washington notified Samaritan of the discovery of a potential therapeutic for Alzheimer’s disease, and Samaritan licensed the product. This is the first discovery to result from the collaboration. Samaritan initiated a seven-year contract to fund Samaritan Research Laboratories at Georgetown in July 2001.
Synthetic Blood International Inc., of Costa Mesa, Calif., said that company officials are planning to meet with the FDA before the end of April to review plans to file an investigational new drug application for Phase I clinical trials with Oxycyte. The company said it expects the IND to be filed by the end of the year. Oxycyte, a blood substitute, is one of two perfluorocarbon-based products being developed by the company.
Synthon Chiragenics Corp., of Monmouth Junction, N.J., introduced DiscoveryCollections, a program that makes Synthon’s chemistry platforms available to companies for independent research. Four collections Diamond, Platinum, Gold and Silver will consist of palettes of compounds representing different aspects of a technology platform for drug discovery.
Target Discovery Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., raised more than $4.6 million in Series A financing for its proteomics platform technologies for comparison and identification of differences in the protein makeup of healthy and diseased tissues. Clayton Struve, its largest investor, was joined by other private angel investors from the Chicago area.
U.S. Genomics Inc., of Woburn, Mass., established a research collaboration with Pui-Yan Kwok, a researcher focused on genetics and technology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Kwok’s laboratory will employ U.S. Genomics’ direct, linear DNA analysis technology for multiple applications. Kwok also will work to extend the development of the technology platform toward additional applications in the field of genetics. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Xencor Inc., of Monrovia, Calif., signed licensing agreements with the California Institute of Technology and Pennsylvania State University to further expand its protein design automation platform. The agreements expand the patent estate of the PDA technology and increase Xencor’s computational throughput and accuracy in protein optimization. Xencor said the PDA technology is the first and only protein optimization method to combine advanced computational methods, high-performance computing and experimental screening.