454 Corp., of Branford, Conn., named Richard Begley president and CEO. Begley joins the company from Agilent Technologies, where he served as general manager of several divisions within Agilent’s Chemical Analysis Group. Begley will lead 454’s efforts in developing technologies for conducting massive-scale genomic and proteomic analysis.
Alfacell Corp., of Bloomfield, N.J., retained Roan/Meyers Associates LP on a nonexclusive basis to provide financial advisory services. The primary task will be to expose the company to Wall Street, institutional investors and funds. Alfacell is involved in the research and development of ribonucleases for a variety of therapeutic applications.
Applied Biosystems, of Foster City, Calif., an Applera Corp. business, and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., agreed to collaborate on technologies and applications for proteomics and small-molecule analysis using a new direct molecular imaging technique and approach to analyze tissue. The collaboration combines Applied Biosystems’ mass spectrometry knowledge with Vanderbilt’s mass spectrometry and tissue imaging technology. The parties also plan to develop Applied Biosystems’ products and applications in mass spectrometry, protein chemistry and bioinformatics. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Arrow Therapeutics Ltd., of London, completed its second major funding round, resulting in an additional US$10 million investment from its existing major investors. The group was led by GIMV, of Belgium. The new funding is expected to carry the company to the beginning of 2004. Arrow is an anti-infective drug discovery group. Other investors included Alta Partners, of San Francisco; 3i Group plc, of London; TVM, of Germany; and Unibio, of London.
Automated Cell Inc., of Pittsburgh, signed an agreement with Abgenix Inc., of Fremont, Calif., to apply Automated Cell’s functional proteomics platform to Abgenix-initiated projects involving both therapeutic antibody candidates and novel protein targets for antibody therapy. The Automated Cell platform provides high-throughput target validation in oncology and immunology, providing Abgenix in vitro mechanism-of-action supportive data for antibody therapeutics as well as validation for the proteins against which the antibodies are targeted. Terms were not disclosed.
AVI BioPharma Inc., of Portland, Ore., licensed a patent titled, “Calicivirus Infections in Humans: Diagnosis and Prevention,” held by Oregon State University in Corvalis. AVI and Oregon State previously published data indicating that the company’s third-generation Neugene antisense agents targeting calicivirus reduced viral infection, viral replication and cell death in cells from two species. Neugene antisense chemistry is considered to be well suited for viral applications due to its neutral ionic charge and high degree of specificity compared with earlier generations of antisense. Terms were not disclosed.
BioStratum Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., filed an investigational new drug application for its anticancer drug candidate, Angiocol, and received FDA clearance to proceed to Phase I trials. The initial study will evaluate the safety and pharmacokinetics of Angiocol in cancer patients. Angiocol, a recombinant protein derived from the non-collagenous domain of type IV collagen, has been shown in preclinical studies to inhibit new blood vessel growth, as well as tumor growth, in a range of in vitro and in vivo models by targeting the assembly and organization of the vascular basal lamina.
Cell Genesys Inc., of Foster City, Calif., leased a 35,000-square-foot facility in Memphis, Tenn., in which it plans to manufacture its GVAX lung cancer vaccines for both Phase III trials and potential market launch. The company’s development strategy for GVAX includes a centrally located facility to receive and process frozen tumor cells from patient biopsies, manufacture patient-specific vaccine products and carry out quality control testing, and ship the frozen vaccine products back to the patient treatment centers. Cell Genesys expects the facility to be operational as Phase III trials begin for GVAX late this year.
Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., extended its tender offer for all outstanding shares of common stock (including associated rights to purchase preferred stock) of Matrix Pharmaceutical Inc., of Fremont, Calif., for $2.21 per share in cash. The offer is now extended to 5 p.m. EST Feb. 19. The tender began Jan. 14, and initially was scheduled to expire at midnight Feb. 11. As of 5 p.m. that day, 22,118,410 shares of Matrix common stock (including 578,181 subject to guaranteed delivery) were validly tendered and not withdrawn, representing approximately 81 percent of the outstanding shares. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 8, 2002.)
CollaGenex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Newtown, Pa., licensed a novel dermal and transdermal drug delivery technology from its inventor. Called Restoraderm, it is designed to enhance the dermal delivery of a variety of active ingredients and will form the basis for a differentiated portfolio of topical dermatological pharmaceuticals. Restoraderm remains under development, and CollaGenex expects that the first products to be developed using the technology will be available late this year. In exchange for Restoraderm’s rights, CollaGenex will pay the inventor milestone fees and royalties.
CytoGenix Inc., of Houston, said Dell Gibson, executive vice president and chairman, resigned from his office and board seat to form an independent company to commercialize CytoGenix’s expression technology in veterinary products for companion animals. Gibson, who is the most senior member of the original CytoGenix management team, will remain with the company during the transition period to handle press relations, investor relations and human resources. The products to be developed are in oligo-mediated intervention therapies, including Triplex, antisense and enzymatic synthesis.
CytRx Corp., of Atlanta, said its TranzFect technology is incorporated in an experimental DNA-based HIV vaccine being developed by Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., which is in Phase I trials. TranzFect is CytRx’s technology designed to contribute to the effectiveness of DNA-based vaccines by enhancing delivery of DNA to target effector cells and by acting as an adjuvant to increase the effectiveness of the immune response to the vaccine.
GenMetrics Corp., of San Jose, Calif., received $3.5 million in funding for research and development of its technology, a drug target platform that enables the discovery, characterization and validation of protein pathways. The company also focuses on bioinformatics.
Inex Pharmaceuticals Corp., of Vancouver, British Columbia, expanded the clinical development program for its lead anticancer product, Onco TCS, to include a new Phase II trial evaluating Onco TCS as a treatment for patients with relapsed Hodgkin’s disease. The company said the trial will generate preliminary safety and efficacy data in a maximum of 35 patients. The trial is being conducted at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
InforMax Inc., of Bethesda, Md., and Sun Microsystems Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., entered a strategic alliance to provide researchers in Asia a bioinformatics solution. InforMax’s GenoMax enterprise bioinformatics system enables high-throughput research and will be available at the Application Service Provider Center in Singapore. This combination of solutions for scientific data analysis, management and integration incorporates information technology infrastructure and implementation services.
LifeSpan BioSciences Inc., of Seattle, had Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, a unit of Procter & Gamble Co., of Cincinnati, subscribe to its GPCR Localization Database. The database is expected to eventually provide expression and localization information on 320 individual G protein-coupled receptors. P&GP researchers will be able to view all GPCR-related information from an integrated bioinformatics platform and engage in GPCR expression studies with LifeSpan. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Microbiotix Inc., of Worcester, Mass., said it achieved a milestone in its collaboration with Shire BioChem Inc., a subsidiary of Shire Pharmaceuticals Group plc, of Andover, UK, for the identification of a lead antibiotic compound having bacterial DNA polymerase inhibitory activity and in vivo efficacy. The achievement triggered an undisclosed milestone payment. Microbiotix focuses on the research and development of small-molecule anti-infective drugs.
Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and COR Therapeutics Inc., of South San Francisco, said the shareholders of both companies gave their approval for their proposed merger. The merger was expected to close at 4:01 p.m. Tuesday. The combined company will be called Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc. and be headquartered in Cambridge. The companies proposed the merger through a stock exchange valued at $2 billion at the time of announcement in December. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 7, 2001.)
PerkinElmer Life Sciences, of Boston, said NitroGlo, its detection technology used to fingerprint precise S-nitrosylation sites on proteins, is now available. The S-nitrosylation is a secondary protein modification that affects the functioning of the protein, and may be turned on or off during parts of the cell cycle. It is found in cell signaling and general cellular regulation processes, and may be involved in certain signal transduction pathways, including those associated with cancers and other cell abnormalities.
Phytomedics Inc., of Dayton, N.J., signed an agreement with Eisai Research Institute, of Boston, to discover therapeutic compounds for use in cancer therapy. Financial details were not disclosed. Phytomedics is developing a strategy for laboratory-based bioprospecting that increases the chances of discovering new drugs without destroying plants growing in the wild, the company said.
PhotoCure ASA, of Oslo, Norway, reported initial results from its five-year Phase III studies on more than 200 basal cell carcinoma (BCC) patients. After the first 12-month period of the study, there were no significant differences between disease recurrence rates. For superficial BCC, there was an 8 percent recurrence rate with Metvix PDT compared to 16 percent recurrence rate for cryotherapy. For nodular BCC, there was a 5 percent recurrence rate for Metvix PDT compared to 0 percent for surgery. Metvix photodynamic therapy involves the application of Metvix cream to the skin, where it is absorbed preferentially by cancer cells and subsequently activated by a PhotoCure’s red light source.
Proligo LLC, of Boulder, Colo., a subsidiary of Degussa AG, introduced TrueSNP primer kits based on locked nucleic acids. The kits are designed for allele-specific PCR, targeting single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping. Inclusion of locked nucleic acids into the primer reduces false positives, a problem that has plagued allele-specific PCR.
ViroLogic Inc., of South San Francisco, entered an agreement with Panacos Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., to use ViroLogic’s drug-resistance assays in the preclinical evaluation of Panacos’ lead HIV drug candidates, PA-344B and PA-457. Panacos plans to advance PA-344B into clinical studies this year. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.