Applied Precision Inc., of Issaquah, Wash., said Riverside Partners Inc., of Boston, took a significant minority position in the company. The investment provides the company with additional capital and better positions it for growth. Applied Precision’s management team will remain in place. Riverside will have three seats on the new nine-seat management board. The company develops systems for biomedical imaging and analysis systems for biotech applications.
Astralis Ltd., of Florham Park, N.J., received a $2.5 million payment from SkyePharma plc, of London, under a stock purchase agreement, the first installment on $10 million due after an initial investment of $10 million on Dec. 10, 2001. SkyePharma will make a total equity investment of up to $20 million in convertible preferred shares, after which SkyePharma will own 15.3 percent of Astralis. Also, a technology agreement provides Astralis with access to SkyePharma’s DepoFoam and other relevant drug delivery technologies. They also signed a service agreement whereby SkyePharma will provide all development, preclinical and clinical development services for Psoraxine, Astralis’ injectable vaccine therapy for the treatment of psoriasis up to the completion of Phase II studies.
Avigen Inc., of San Francisco, is proceeding with the liver delivery clinical trial of Coagulin-B, its gene therapy product for hemophilia B. The second clinical trial participant was treated last week. In this trial, patients with hemophilia B receive Avigen’s adeno-associated virus gene therapy vector containing the Factor IX gene, Coagulin-B, via infusion into the hepatic artery. In a previous clinical trial, Avigen and collaborators tested delivery of the Factor IX gene via intramuscular injection. Data demonstrated Coagulin-B to be safe and well tolerated with confirmation of successful gene transfer and protein expression in all patients treated.
BioDelivery Systems Inc., of Newark, N.J., changed the price-per-share range for its proposed initial public offering from between $5 and $9 to between $5.25 and $6. The company filed for its IPO in early November. It is a development-stage biotechnology company developing and seeking to commercialize a drug delivery technology designed for a potentially broad base of pharmaceuticals, vaccines and over-the-counter drugs. Its drug delivery technology nano-encapsulates the chosen drug in a jellyroll-like structure termed a cochleate cylinder.
Bioenvision Inc., of New York, said it closed its acquisition of privately held Pathagon Inc. Bioenvision adds the rights to two FDA-approved anti-infective technologies, Oligon and methylene blue. Pathagon’s Oligon technology creates an electrochemical reaction between dissimilar metals, silver and platinum. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Bio-Technology General Corp., of Iselin, N.J., began a Phase I study of Puricase, a polyethylene glycol conjugate of uricase (urate oxidase), in the treatment of severe gout. The Phase I study is being conducted at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and will evaluate the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of single-doses of Puricase in patients with symptomatic gout that is unresponsive to conventional treatment. BTG licensed worldwide rights to the Puricase technology from Duke and Mountain View Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Menlo Park, Calif.
De Novo Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, and Sun Microsystems Inc. in London reported a joint technology development initiative to co-develop a comprehensive chemoinformatics platform to house designs of potential drugs produced by De Novo’s software. De Novo’s initial investment with Sun comprises a fully integrated, scalable 80-node compute farm based on Sun’s Throughput Engine Software Stack (TESS). Following successful technology development, De Novo will retain full rights for commercial exploitation of the design platform, ChemoBase, and Sun will receive certain rights to implement the resulting hardware solution.
Endovasc Ltd. Inc., of Montgomery, Texas, signed an option agreement with Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., to acquire an exclusive, worldwide patent license for the use of nicotine in stem cell and progenitor cell recruitment focused in the areas of cardiology and neurology. The patent is titled, “Nicotine Receptor Agonists in Stem Cell and Progenitor Cell Recruitment.” In early 2000, Endovasc obtained an exclusive, worldwide license from Stanford for the use of a patent titled, “Nicotine Receptor Agonist (NRA) as an Agent of Angiogenesis.” Endovasc has until Jan. 24, 2003, to exercise the stem cell option.
Genzyme General, a division of Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., and Gambro Healthcare Inc., of Lakewood, Colo., a wholly owned subsidiary of Gambro AB, launched a program designed to improve phosphorus management among patients with end-stage renal disease undergoing hemodialysis at Gambro. The Gambro Renal Initiative for Phosphorus program will include additional training for medical directors, renal dietitians, renal social workers and nurses with information on phosphorus management, as well as educational initiatives for patients. In addition, Genzyme and Gambro will work together to review patients’ insurance coverage to determine their prescription benefits and to assure clinically appropriate care.
Neoprobe Corp., of Dublin, Ohio, completed an exclusive license agreement with the University of California at San Diego. The license affords Neoprobe the rights to a compound developed by researchers at UCSD. The compound, which Neoprobe has designated Lymphoseek, is being evaluated in clinical studies to determine its effectiveness in identifying lymphatic tissue in breast and in melanoma cancer patients. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Newport Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Dublin, Ireland, agreed to extend its North American distribution agreement for Imunovir (inosine pranobex) with Rivex Pharma Inc., a subsidiary of Helix BioPharma Corp., of Aurora, Ontario. The agreement, which was due to expire, was extended for two years with an option for five more years. Imunovir is approved in 70 markets for restoration of cell-mediated immunity in immunodepressed patients and a variety of virally induced indications, such as measles, influenza and several viral respiratory infections, the company said. In Canada, Imunovir is registered for the treatment of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis.
NovaRx Corp., of San Diego, said it is collaborating with the Hoag Cancer Center in Newport Beach, Calif., to conduct a Phase II trial using an experimental cancer vaccine in patients with lung cancer. The vaccine is made of non-small-cell lung cancer cell lines that have been genetically modified through growth factor-beta antisense. NovaRx holds the exclusive worldwide license for this technology in lung cancer.
Oridigm Corp., of Seattle, named Frederick Dechow its president and CEO. Dechow served as CEO of PrimeCyte Inc. (recently acquired by Signature BioScience Inc., also of Seattle) and as CEO of BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Birmingham, Ala. Oridigm focuses on discovering and developing small-molecule therapeutics, with an initial focus on autoimmune disease.
Ortec International Inc., of New York, entered into a 10-year lease for a 56,000-sqare-foot office and production facility, to be constructed for Ortec by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority in The Technology Centre of New Jersey located in North Brunswick. The Technology Centre of New Jersey LLC will invest over $4.5 million in tenant improvements to accommodate Ortec’s requirements. The company also has been approved for Business Employment Incentive Grants with a projected value of $1.5 million over 10 years. Ortec, a tissue engineering company, expects to transition to the new facility during 2002 and be fully operational at that site in 2003.
Pharmos Corp., of Iselin, N.J., filed a shelf registration to sell up to $25 million of common stock, preferred stock, debt securities and/or warrants. The company said in its prospectus it would use proceeds for general corporate purposes, research and product development activities (including the potential acquisition of new technologies), conducting preclinical studies and clinical trials, and to equip its facilities. The company has a late-stage product in trials for brain injury and programs in stroke, multiple sclerosis, pain and other neurological indications.
Prana Biotechnology Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, reported a new state SPIRT grant from the government to identify new peptides that cause degeneration in the brain. The project initially will identify peptides that bind to beta-amyloid, the protein that causes degeneration of nerves in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Prana has partnered with the University of Melbourne, where the research will be conducted using Prana’s intellectual property.
Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, said it developed a substance that induces hair growth. Called EPM, it encourages cyclic hair growth by inducing the formation of hair follicles. EPM is Sumitomo’s first biomedical product. It can be applied to the scalp as a hair regrowth product for external use. The news was disclosed as part of a move into biomedicine. The company said it will focus on morphogenesis of blood vessels and organs
Tanabe Seiyaku Co. Ltd., of Osaka, Japan, and Menarini Ltd., of Florence, Italy, agreed to collaborate on worldwide development of T-0128, an anticancer agent in the early development stage in Japan, through establishment of a joint venture company. T-0128 is a tumor-targeting polymer conjugate consisting of the camptothecin analogue T-2513 and a macromolecular carrier, covalently linked via short peptide chain.
Vical Inc., of San Diego, said it signed a multiyear lease with Kilroy Realty Corp., including an option to purchase a shell facility in north San Diego designed to accommodate build-out for biotech operations. The facility will bring the company’s personnel under one roof and provide expanded capacity for research, development and manufacturing, the company said. The new corporate center will contain approximately 68,000 square feet of manufacturing, research laboratory and office space.
Vion Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New Haven, Conn., began a Phase I trial of Tapet-CD, its first armed vector, for patients with advanced or metastatic solid tumors no longer considered responsive to available treatments. Tapet-CD will be injected directly into a solid tumor on or near the surface of the body. Each patient will also be given 5-fluorocytosine (5-FC) to take orally. The objective is to determine the maximum safe doses of Tapet-CD and 5-FC. In addition, injected tumors will be examined for extent of Tapet-CD colonization, conversion of the prodrug 5-FC to the active anti-cancer agent 5-FU, and any anticancer effects.
Xeotron Corp., of Houston, was awarded a $3 million, 3-year contract by the U.S. Navy, Office of Special Technology. The contract, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is to develop technology for a Microfluidic Array Parallel Synthesis System for production of multistrands of oligonucleotides for use in assembling long DNA sequences. The process, based on Xeotron’s technology platform, is designed to accelerate production of oligonucleotides with reduced cost, the company said.