Albany Molecular Research Inc., of Albany, N.Y., entered a multiyear agreement with Myriad Genetics Inc., of Salt Lake City, to conduct chemistry research and development in undisclosed therapeutic areas. AMRI will prepare compounds for biological screening by Myriad, with the goal of identifying and developing novel therapeutics. AMRI may conduct various drug discovery-related chemistry research including design and synthesis of potential therapeutics, computer-assisted drug design, chemical process research and analytical chemistry on compounds provided by Myriad. The first project will continue for up to one year, with the possibility of early termination or renewal.
Avanir Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, established a license agreement with Biopharm Group International, of Cairo, Egypt, to manufacture and market docosanol 10 percent cream in Egypt, select countries of the Middle East and the Gulf Cooperative Council. Avanir will receive milestone payments and royalties on sales of the product in those areas.
Biomira Inc., of Edmonton, Alberta, said an independent Data Safety Monitoring Board reviewed safety data from the first 50 patients enrolled in its Phase IIb non-small-cell lung cancer trial with the BLP25 vaccine. The DSMB recommended that the study continue as planned. The study at centers in Canada and the UK is designed to measure safety and potential survival benefits.
Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., and Matrix Pharmaceutical Inc., of Fremont, Calif., said there was an early termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act with regard to the pending acquisition by Chiron of Matrix. Chiron and Matrix have entered into a merger agreement, pursuant to which a wholly owned subsidiary of Chiron, Manon Acquisition Corp., on Jan. 14 began an all-cash tender offer for all of Matrix’s outstanding common stock at a price of $2.21 per share. The deal initially was valued at $61 million. The tender offer and withdrawal rights are scheduled to expire at midnight Feb. 11. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 8, 2002.)
Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., reported its fourth-quarter and year-end results. The company saw pro-forma revenues of more than $1.12 billion in 2001, increased from about $938 million in 2000. The company had a pro-forma net income from continuing operations in the fourth quarter of $51 million, or 26 cents per share, in line with consensus estimates. For the year, it had pro-forma income from continuing operations of $187 million, or 96 cents per share, a penny more than consensus estimates. The company’s biopharmaceuticals unit reported net sales and royalties of $377 million for the year, the vaccines business generated $365 million and blood testing revenues were $185 billion.
Columbia Laboratories Inc., of Livingston, N.J., received positive and confirmatory results from the clinical analysis of its buccal formulation of desmopressin. Results from the first clinical pharmacokinetic trial, conducted in December, indicated that all patients dosed with the buccal tablet formulation achieved therapeutically meaningful levels of desmopressin within 90 minutes of administration. Columbia plans to immediately initiate full-scale partnering discussions while progressing this project to the next phase of development. Columbia also plans to implement and complete similar pilot clinical programs on two additional peptides using the same technology in the first half of the year. Desmopressin is marketed in the United States by Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc. Columbia’s stock (AMEX:COB) gained $1.12 Wednesday, or 34.5 percent, to close at $4.37.
Consensus Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Medford, Mass., said it achieved the first milestone in its collaboration with Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass. The companies entered a collaboration in July under which Consensus would provide Vertex with substrates and structural analysis of the binding requirements for 10 protease targets. Financial details of the deal, including the milestone payment amounts, were not disclosed.
Compugen Ltd., of Tel Aviv, Israel, established Agro-Leads, a majority-owned subsidiary focusing on agricultural biotechnology and plant genomics, with offices and laboratories in Rehovot, Israel. Its core product focus will be the development of seeds with new and highly improved traits. Agro-Leads’ high-throughput platforms use a base of proprietary and licensed technologies, including Compugen’s LEADS computational biology platform, the Weizmann Institute of Science’s patent-pending “tomato gene machine” for functional genomics in plants, and various high-throughput processes for molecular analysis of genomic components and other technologies developed while the agricultural activities were a division within Compugen.
Exact Sciences Corp., of Maynard, Mass., said its scientists collaborated with scientists at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in the development of a novel technology to analyze DNA extracted from stool samples. The technology is known as digital protein truncation and is highlighted in an article titled, “Detection of Colorectal Tumors Through APC Mutations in Fecal DNA” in the Jan. 31, 2002, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Exact Sciences has exclusively licensed from Johns Hopkins University aspects of the technology upon which Dig-PT is based.
Geron Corp., of Menlo Park, Calif., filed a prospectus with the SEC for the sale of up to $150 million in debt securities, common or preferred stock and warrants. The company said it would use the proceeds for general corporate purposes, which may include funding research and development; increasing its working capital; reducing indebtedness; acquisitions or investments in businesses, products or technologies that are complementary to its own; and capital expenditures. Geron focuses on developing and commercializing therapeutic and diagnostic products for applications in oncology and regenerative medicine, and research tools for drug discovery.
Hybrigen Inc., of Dallas, and Bionomics Ltd., of Adelaide, Australia, expanded their collaboration to discover drug targets to include a novel target identified by Bionomics in its angiogenesis project. This second research and development collaboration follows the initial drug target discovery program based on multiple genes identified and patented by Bionomics from its breast cancer project. The companies will co-own the drug targets developed in this program and intend to form a new entity to commercialize discoveries made during the collaboration.
ILEX Oncology Inc., of San Antonio, reported that global net sales of Campath reached $27.1 million for 2001 in the drug’s first seven months of commercial availability. Campath was launched in the United States in June and in the European Union in August for chronic leukocytic leukemia. For the full year 2002, ILEX expects global sales to reach $50 million to $55 million, reflecting broader physician acceptance and adoption.
Immunicon Corp., of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., raised about $28.8 million through a private offering of convertible preferred equity. Proceeds will be used to develop Immunicon’s platform technologies for cell-based diagnostics to screen, diagnose and monitor cancer for other diagnostic and research applications. Burrill & Co., of San Francisco, led the offering. Investors included Wheatley Partners, of New York; equity4Life, of Zurich, Switzerland; Canaan Partners; Foundation Medical Partners; Johnson & Johnson Development Corp.; LHC Corp.; TL Ventures; MDS Capital Corp., of Canada; The Cleveland Clinic Foundation; Anthem Capital; and MedCapital. Placement agent for the financing was UBS Warburg LLC, of New York.
Merck KgaA, of Darmstadt, Germany, said that its affiliate, Biovation Ltd., of Aberdeen, UK, expanded its operations by opening a U.S. office in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Biovation is an antibody and protein company with a technology, De-Immunisation, designed to genetically engineer antibodies and other proteins for administration to humans without immunogenicity.
Ortec International Inc., of New York, secured a $1.3 million lease line of credit from an undisclosed financial institution. The lease line of credit is available for the acquisition of additional manufacturing, laboratory and other equipment required to expand its manufacturing capacity, increase efficiencies and decrease production costs of its product, OrCel, a biological active wound-healing agent.
Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y., said two articles were published that underscore the clinical utility of its investigational drug, methylnaltrexone, in reversing a range of side effects caused by opioid pain therapy. One article, “A Review of the Potential Role of Methylnaltrexone in Opioid Bowel Dysfunction,” was written by University of Chicago researcher Joseph Foss and published in the current issue of The American Journal of Surgery. The second article, also by clinicians at the university, reported that MNTX prevented morphine-induced bowel paralysis and reduced, in aggregate, the severity of 12 other common side effects of morphine. It was published in the current issue of The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.
Thuris Corp., of Irvine, Calif., completed a $3.8 million private offering of preferred stock to an international group of investors and a co-development and services agreement with the lead investor, Cephalon Inc., of West Chester, Pa. Proceeds will be used to fund ongoing evaluation of preclinical pharmaceutical compounds for the treatment of certain brain disorders including Alzheimer’s disease and also for the development of a device to help diagnose psychiatric disorders. Thuris will grant Cephalon nonexclusive access to its RapidAging technologies and Cephalon will provide Thuris nonexclusive access to a series of proprietary enzyme inhibitors for evaluation in the RapidAging model. Also, Cephalon will provide cysteine protease inhibitors, which Thuris will evaluate and could result in milestone payments and/or royalties to the developing party, if developed.