Affymetrix Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., launched the GeneChip Human Genome U133 set, which allows researchers to access a comprehensive, up-to-date version of the human genome sequence. The company called HG-U133 the first commercial array set to use the publicly available draft of the human genome, giving researchers the ability to analyze the genome on two chips.
Agencourt Bioscience Corp., of Beverly, Mass., was selected to provide genomic services to the National Institutes of Health Mammalian Gene Collection (MGC) project through a federally funded contract. Agencourt will use its Solid Phase Reversible Immobilization technology, which uses microscopic magnetic particles and binding reagents to isolate nucleic acids from biomolecular contaminants, to sequence tag mammalian cDNAs as part of the MGC goal to identify and accurately sequence full-length cDNAs. All the resources generated by the MGC project are publicly accessible and are intended to speed biomedical research.
Alfacell Corp., of Bloomfield, N.J., said Phase II study results of Onconase in patients with inoperable malignant mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer of the inner lining of the chest and abdomen, were published in the Jan. 1, 2002, issue of The Journal of Clinical Oncology. The one- and two-year survival rates overall were 34.3 percent and 21.6 percent, respectively, for the 105 patients treated with Onconase. Thirty-seven of those enrolled did not respond to prior systemic chemotherapy. Onconase is a ribonuclease anticancer drug developed from the eggs of Rana pipiens, the leopard frog.
Altea Development Corp., of Atlanta, received a Small Business Innovative Research Phase II grant of $944,000 from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health, to continue studies with Altea’s MicroPor system for the noninvasive delivery of insulin. MicroPor technology creates microscopic pores in the outermost layer of the skin, enabling the systemic uptake of topically applied drugs.
Ambion RNA Diagnostics, of Austin, Texas, a division of Ambion Inc., completed its new cGMP manufacturing facility to satisfy rapidly expanding market demand for RNA applications. Ambion RNA Diagnostics was created to provide RNA-based products and services to the in vitro diagnostic and pharmaceutical processing industries. The facility is available for contract development and manufacturing in the areas of RNA synthesis, RNA isolation, diagnostic kits, controls and standards, and RNA-based raw materials for bioprocessing applications.
American Biogenetic Sciences Inc., of Copiague, N.Y., said it executed two 10-year agreements with Russian associations, giving ABS exclusive rights to distribute in specified markets Russian-manufactured anthrax and smallpox vaccines. One agreement gives ABS the exclusive right to sell and distribute worldwide an anthrax vaccine produced by a Russian manufacturer. A separate agreement grants ABS rights to act as the manufacturer’s exclusive worldwide distributor for smallpox vaccine for human use outside of the Russian Federation and 11 other independent countries formerly part of the Soviet Union.
Celera Genomics Group, of Rockville, Md., said Craig Venter will step down as president but will continue his affiliation with Celera as chair of its scientific advisory board. Tony White, CEO and chairman of Applera Corp., will assume the role of president of Celera while the company seeks additional management.
Antisoma plc, of London, reported positive preclinical results for the treatment of solid tumors with DMXAA when used in combination with chemotherapy agents. Neither DMXAA nor the chemotherapy drugs alone provided prolonged delays in tumor growth or cures. However, co-administration produced a significant delay in tumor growth for eight of nine chemotherapy drugs, with the greatest effect seen with Taxol and Taxotere. In combination with Taxol, a median tumor growth delay of 29.5 days was observed and four of the 11 mice treated were cured. Antisoma plans to start a clinical study with DMXAA in combination with chemotherapy by the end of this year, following completion of a small dose-finding study.
Cephalon Inc., of West Chester, Pa., said its partner, Armstrong Laboratorios de Mexico S.A.C.V., received approval to sell and distribute modafinil in Mexico. Armstrong will market modafinil under the brand name Modiodal. Cephalon controls worldwide rights to modafinil, marketed as Provigil in the U.S. and several other countries. Provigil is a wake-promoting agent for the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy.
ChemBridge Corp., of San Diego, and its spin-off, ChemBridge Research Laboratories LLC, said they entered into a discovery chemistry collaboration with Pfizer Inc., of New York. Over four and a half years, more than 100 ChemBridge and CRL chemists will work with a team of Pfizer scientists to design, develop and produce combinatorial compound libraries for Pfizer’s compound file. Pfizer will make an equity investment in CRL in addition to annual research and development funding for both ChemBridge and CRL. Further financial terms were not disclosed.
Cytogen Corp., of Princeton, N.J., closed an agreement with its largest current shareholder, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, to sell about 3 million shares of registered common stock for gross proceeds of $8 million. The purchase price was $2.69 per share and the shares were offered pursuant to the company’s effective shelf registration statement. Cytogen said proceeds from the offering will be used primarily for general corporate purposes, principally working capital and capital expenditures.
Cytovax Biotechnologies Inc., of Edmonton, Alberta, received approval of its clinical trial application from Health Canada to begin human trials for its lead product, Cytovaxine, a peptide vaccine for the prevention of infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Preparations are under way for the Phase I trial at the Clinical Trials Research Center at Dalhousie University and the IWK Health Center in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Cytovaxine uses the company’s Anti-Adhesin Technology to prevent infection by blocking the adhesion of pathogens onto human mucosal cells.
DoubleTwist Inc., of Oakland, Calif., appointed Robert Williamson CEO and a member of the board. Williamson had been president and chief operating officer. John Couch, former CEO, will remain as chairman. DoubleTwist also reported several new and renewing customers for its genomic databases and tools. Four companies licensed DoubleTwist’s GenomeZone online service; another licensed the Prophecy database and tools suite, the Prophecy ToolKit and the Genomatix Promoter Resource database; one company renewed its subscription to the Prophecy suite and also licensed the Prophecy ToolKit; and a U.S. pharmaceutical company licensed DoubleTwist’s Clustering and Alignment Tools.
Dynamis Therapeutics Inc., of Wyndmoor, Pa., said the Development Center for Biotechnology, of Taipei, Taiwan, agreed to make a multimillion-dollar research investment to optimize and perform preclinical studies on Dyn 12, Dynamis’ small-molecule drug. Dynamis said the optimized Dyn 12 has the potential to prevent diabetic-related kidney disease and blindness. Dynamis expects to file an investigational new drug application within three years. The center has licensed all Asian rights to the drug.
EDEN Bioscience Corp., of Bothell, Wash., said the California Department of Pesticide Regulation registered EDEN’s Messenger for the sale and use on grapes and fruiting vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, for disease management. Messenger was first registered in California last year for use on strawberries. Messenger, which received EPA approval for full commercial use in April 2000, is based on naturally occurring proteins called harpins and is designed to improve crop yield and quality.
GenTel Inc., of Madison, Wis., said its core technology is the outcome of collaborations between University of Wisconsin chemistry professors Lloyd Smith and Robert Corn, and Anne Cordon, a professor at the University of British Columbia. The company is developing a biochip-based genomics toolkit for life science research.
GlycoDesign Inc., of Toronto, reported survival data from patients with metastatic renal cancer in the company’s Canadian Phase II trial for GD0039, its lead anticancer compound. The data indicate that nine of 18 patients enrolled are alive, and their current median survival since starting GD0039 is 17.2 months. The median survival with IL-2, the only approved drug for the treatment of metastatic renal cancer, is reported at 16.3 months. Orally administered GD0039 works by blocking the production of specific carbohydrates that coat the outside of cancer cells.
High Throughput Genomics Inc., of Tuscon, Ariz., completed a Series A round of financing of $1.25 million. The funds invested by Solstice Capital, Tucson Ventures and Village Ventures will be used to accelerate the deployment of Multiplexed Molecular Profiling, the company’s patented technology for high-throughput analysis of DNA, mRNA and protein expression in drug discovery, development and diagnostics applications.
Immune Network Ltd., of Vancouver, British Columbia, signed a research agreement with Brian Conway, of the University of British Columbia. The agreement formalizes the collaboration with the university, enhancing the development of the company’s approaches to the treatment of HIV and hepatitis C virus, primarily to learn more about 1F7 an anti-idiotypic immunomodulatory MAb as a potential treatment for HIV and HCV.
Incara Pharmaceuticals Corp., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., said the United States Adopted Name Council granted Incara the generic name “deligoparin sodium” for the ultra-low-molecular-weight heparin product, OP2000. Deligoparin is being developed for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease by Incara Development Ltd., which is jointly owned by Incara and Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland. The drug is in a Phase II/III trial in patients with ulcerative colitis.
Introgen Therapeutics Inc., of Austin, Texas, was awarded a $492,600 Small Business Technology Transfer grant from the National Cancer Institute. The two-year grant will fund collaborative research between Introgen and Elizabeth Grimm, a professor and the co-director of the melanoma program at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, and the study’s principal investigator. The collaboration will help advance preclinical development of INGN 241 (adenoviral-mda7), Introgen’s gene-based drug designed to kill cancer cells without harming normal cells.
Molecular Mining Corp., of Raleigh, N.C., released its GeneLinker Gold version 2.0 gene expression analysis software. The release adds several features in addition to speed and data handling improvements, including 3-dimensional principal components analysis plots, summary statistics and profile matching, and serve to complement the features like self-organizing maps and Jarvis-Patrick clustering.
Peplin Biotech Ltd., of Brisbane, Australia, and Burrill & Co., of San Francisco, said Peplin appointed Burrill & Co. to advise and assist in a round of product partnering for international markets. Peplin discovers and develops drugs for cancer treatment.
Phytomedics Inc., of Dayton, N.J., signed an agreement with Degussa BioActives GmbH & Co., of Freising, Germany, a unit of Degussa AG. The objective of the agreement is to co-develop, produce and market PMI-5011, a botanical health care product with oral anti-diabetic activity. PMI-5011 is a product of Phytomedics’ technologies used to develop a new generation of safe, standardized, optimized and efficacious botanical therapeutics. Terms were not disclosed.
Prana Biotechnology Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, said it completed the clinical phase of its Alzheimer’s disease drug trial in Australia. The company expressed hope that the trial will demonstrate proof of principle of the company’s support of neuroprotection therapies based on oxidation biology and metalloprotein brain chemistry. Data analysis is expected to be completed in April.
Progen Industries Ltd., of Brisbane, Australia, said a Phase II trial of PI-88 has commenced in Melbourne, Australia. The trial will investigate the efficacy of PI-88 against multiple myeloma in patients whose illness has failed to respond to other treatment options or whose disease has returned after prior therapy. PI-88 is under development as a potential treatment for cancer as well as other diseases.
Sequenom Inc., of San Diego, said it has cumulatively identified more than 120 candidate disease genes, most of which indicate an impact on the health of 5 million to 20 million U.S. individuals. Initial studies suggest associations to disease areas including diabetes, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, anxiety and depression. Sequenom owns 11 patents and has more than 50 pending patent applications based on these associations.
SignalGene Inc., of Montreal, began in vivo animal testing of the first drug candidate from its anti-angiogenesis drug discovery program. The animal testing regimen includes determination of maximum tolerated dose, activity to inhibit tumor growth and preliminary toxicological evaluation. Specific testing of the effects of the compound on blood vessel formation in animal models also will be conducted. The compound selected for preclinical studies previously was shown to inhibit the proliferation of human endothelial cells in vitro and to be nontoxic to cells at effective doses.
Symphogen A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, raised $15 million for the continued development of its recombinant polyclonal antibody platform, symphobodies, which the company called safe alternatives to blood-derived immunoglobulins and strong competitors to monoclonal antibodies. Medicon Valley Capital was the lead investor, while Essex Woodlands Health Ventures, Novo A/S, L nmodtagernes Dyrtidsfond, V kstfonden and Danske Bank also joined. Symphogen was founded to commercialize the patented Symphage technology invented by Boston University professor Jacqueline Sharon.
Vical Inc., of San Diego, said research results published in the journal Nature describe its use of naked DNA technology in the ongoing efforts to develop a vaccine to combat HIV. The report described studies conducted by Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., including a study in which a vaccine regimen employing Vical’s patented naked DNA nonviral gene delivery technology was used in a prime-boost regimen with naked DNA plus adjuvant to prime and Merck’s nonreplicating adenoviral vector to boost. This vaccine combination was shown to provide potent cellular immune responses to a hybrid form of HIV that can replicate and cause clinical disease in monkeys.