Adaptive Screening Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, named its first CEO and president, Frank Craig, who will assume the position in March. Craig previously was vice president of research and development at Amersham Biosciences, of Piscataway, N.J. In 1996, Craig co-founded Aurora Biosciences Corp., of San Diego. Separately, Adaptive Screening opened a Bionanotechnology Research Center at the Diagnostics Research Incubator in Glasgow. Partly funded by a grant from Scottish Enterprise, the center will employ researchers and help ASL in the area of drug discovery technology.
Biophage Pharma Inc., of Montreal, entered an agreement to research and commercialize pharmaceutical applications of immune modulators owned by Biopolymer Engineering Inc., of Eagan, Minn., in the prevention of a variety of biological agents, including anthrax, smallpox, plague and brucellosis. The goal is to develop an alternative or adjunctive approach to antibiotics or vaccines through the enhancement of the innate immune defense system against infections.
BioProcessors Corp., of Woburn, Mass., raised $6 million in a Series A financing led by Oxford Bioscience Partners, of Boston. Other participants in the round included angel investors Rowland Capital and Sequoia International Investments. The company has raised about $7 million to date. BioProcessors integrates microfluidics, cell and tissue culturing, proprietary biological and biochemical assay development and analytical tools, which it said allows drug developers to more quickly select the best lead compounds.
Celera Genomics Group, of Rockville, Md., signed a multiyear agreement with the United Kingdom Medical Research Council, which allows a consortium of UK academic researchers access to Celera’s database products. Subscribers will have access to database information and research tools through Celera’s Discovery System. The agreement is administered by MRC but is open to all UK-based academic researchers whether MRC-funded or not. Financial terms were not disclosed.
ChemNavigator, of San Diego, said DuPont Crop Protection, of Wilmington, Del., signed a two-year agreement to use ChemNavigator’s proprietary, web-based cheminformatics technology and chemistry procurement service to streamline its compound acquisition process in connection with its research and development activities. DuPont scientists will use ChemNavigator’s iResearch System to design compound libraries relevant to a particular area of research from the more than 2 million compounds available through ChemNavigator’s global network of 35 chemistry suppliers. In December, ChemNavigator said its iResearch System will incorporate Cambridge, Mass.-based CambridgeSoft Corp.’s ChemACX database of nearly 200,000 reagents. In November, the company said it entered a one-year agreement with Alydar Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., to perform cheminformatics analysis on Alydar’s Pheromics library of infochemicals.
ComGenex Inc., of Budapest, Hungary, and Echelon Research Laboratories Inc., of Salt Lake City, entered an alliance aimed at diverse areas, including cancer, heart and inflammatory diseases. ComGenex will provide drug discovery chemistry capabilities, including high-throughput synthesis, analysis, ADME/Tox predictions, chemoinformatics and chemogenomics technologies. Echelon will employ high-throughput screening assays to identify lead compounds that inhibit lipid kinase and phosphatase enzyme targets. The companies will jointly own the rights to resulting drug candidates.
Crucell NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, said the first milestone was achieved in its agreement with Centocor Inc., a Malvern, Pa., unit of Johnson & Johnson. The milestone was one of the goals the companies agreed upon for the development and commercialization of Crucell’s CD 46-specific human antibody against cancer. The preclinical milestone further confirms the efficacy of the antibody in animal models. Centocor will make a $1.5 million payment to Crucell.
Digene Corp., of Gaithersburg, Md., said it re-acquired from Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., exclusive rights to distribute Digene’s chlamydia and gonorrhea tests and accessories worldwide. Under a marketing and distribution agreement between Digene and Abbott, Digene provided Abbott with exclusive distribution rights to the tests in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Digene now plans to begin distributing the tests in the U.S. and in Europe. Digene paid Abbott $2.5 million in Digene common stock for the re-acquisition of rights and agreed to repurchase Hybrid Capture instrumentation used for HPV, chlamydia and gonorrhea testing previously purchased by Abbott.
Geron Corp., of Menlo Park, Calif., said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences granted Geron’s request to declare an interference between a patent application licensed to Geron from the Roslin Institute and U.S. Patent No. 5,945,577, assigned to the University of Massachusetts. The ’577 patent is licensed to Advanced Cell Technology Inc., of Worcester, Mass. Geron said the Roslin/Geron patent application and the ’577 patent claim certain aspects of nuclear transfer for cloning nonhuman mammals, including farm animals for agricultural uses. A patent interference is a proceeding conducted in instances where two or more parties claim patent rights to the same technology.
Hybrigenics SA, of Paris, and Mindsense Biosystems Ltd., of Rehovot, Israel, entered a collaboration to identify biomarkers and drug targets for the diagnosis and possible treatment of depression. Hybrigenics will apply its high-throughput functional proteomics technologies to identify proteins that interact with a selection of Mindsense’s targets in the area of mental disorders in the collaboration. Financial details were not disclosed.
Intradigm Corp., of Rockville, Md., obtained exclusive access to patented technologies developed at the University of Maryland at Baltimore by James Mixson that include gene delivery polymers and all applications of synthetic vectors to cancer gene therapies that inhibit tumor angiogenesis. Intradigm said it will use the technologies to support its business activities in the discovery and validation of gene function directly in animal models and in development of delivery methods for gene therapies.
Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, said the FDA approved Gleevec (imatinib mesylate) for the treatment of patients with Kit (CD 117)-positive unresectable and/or metastatic malignant gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Gleevec, a signal transduction inhibitor, received FDA approval for the chronic myeloid leukemia indication on May 10 for the treatment of patients in the blast crisis, accelerated phase, or in chronic phase after failure of interferon-alpha therapy.
PharmaSeq Inc., of Monmouth Junction, N.J., appointed Richard Morris CEO. Morris has more than 25 years of experience in the areas of biomedical instrumentation and biotechnology. He most recently served as president of e-Commerce and chief marketing officer for CambridgeSoft Corp., of Cambridge, Mass. He also has served as president of Sigma-Aldrich Research for Sigma-Aldrich Corp., of St. Louis, as well as vice president of worldwide sales at Molecular Dynamics, of Sunnyvale, Calif. PharmaSeq has developed laser light-powered microchips and related high-speed reading instruments for multiple applications in gene diagnostics, drug discovery and proteomics.
Syn-X Pharma Inc., of Toronto, entered a standstill agreement with an undisclosed life sciences company. That company will have exclusive rights for 30 days to negotiate and enter an agreement with Syn-X concerning a license and supply agreement with respect to Syn-X’s method for the detection and measurement of human brain glutamine synthetase and associated reagents. SYN-X will receive a nonrefundable payment in consideration for entering the standstill agreement, subject to certain terms and conditions.
PhotoCure ASA, of Oslo, Norway, said the company received marketing authorization in Norway from the Norwegian Medicines Agency. The authorization is a result of the agency in December recognizing the Swedish Drug Authority’s market authorization of Metvix PDT for treating skin cancer, and the approval of the Norwegian translation of the package insert. Based on this authorization, PhotoCure now may apply for price and reimbursement for the Metvix cream before the product is launched in Norway. This is the first time a drug for treatment of diseases based on Norwegian academic research has been approved in Norway, the company said.
Regeneration Technologies Inc., of Alachua, Fla., said Richard Allen, its chief financial officer, and James Abraham, its vice president, sales and marketing, left the company. Additionally, RTI is delaying the release of its fourth-quarter and 2001 results while management completes evaluation of certain inventory issues identified in the process of completing the preparation of RTI’s year-end financial statements. The company also said it is evaluating whether these issues may affect its previous quarterly financial results. Although RTI’s annual results have not been finalized, company officials expect to report a loss for both the quarter and the year. The company said the evaluation is expected to take several weeks. Also, it said the FDA favorably concluded the review of RTI’s BioCleanse tissue sterilization process and decided no regulatory action is required. RTI processes allograft tissue into shaped implants for use in orthopedic and other surgeries. Its stock (NASDAQ:RTIX) fell $5.19, or 51.1 percent, Friday to reach $4.96 before Nasdaq halted trading in the morning. Nasdaq changed the halt to “additional information requested” later in the day and said the stock would remain under that status until Nasdaq’s requests for information have been satisfied.
Stanford University Medical Center researchers in Stanford, Calif., discovered a potential treatment for Huntington’s disease. By enhancing the brain’s natural protective response to the disease, researchers were able to alleviate the uncontrollable tremors, and prolong the lives of mice with a neurological disorder that mimics Huntington’s. Their finding suggests that a similar treatment may be effective in humans. An abnormal form of the huntingtin gene was at the root of the problem; the solution involved cystamine. Results were published in the February 2002 issue of Nature Medicine.