Alizyme plc, of Cambridge, UK, announced the successful completion of the Phase Ia trial of ATL-104 for the treatment of mucositis, and said it will complete Phase Ib in time for a Phase IIa trial in cancer patients to start in the second half of this year. Up to 40 percent of cancer patients who are treated with radiotherapy or chemotherapy suffer from mucositis, in which the cells lining the mouth and gastrointestinal tract are damaged, leading to inflammation, ulceration, pain, diarrhea and difficulty in eating and drinking. ATL-104 acts by stimulating the growth of these cells.

Antisoma plc, of London, said it got positive preclinical results in the treatment of solid tumors using DMXAA, a small molecule that restricts blood flow in tumors, in combination with nine widely used chemotherapy agents. The company will start a clinical study later this year, following a small dose-finding study in patients. Apart from its effect on blood flow, DMXAA also appears to cause the endothelial cells lining the blood vessels to release substances that may sensitize tumors to chemotherapy. The compound already has completed Phase I as a monotherapy.

DeCode Genetics Inc., of Reykjavik, Iceland, said its pharmacogenomics and clinical research subsidiary Encode entered an alliance with Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J., to identify genetic markers associated with the onset of advanced forms of heart disease. DeCode will deploy its Clinical Genome Miner discovery system and its population data to pinpoint markers that help to identify patients likely to progress from early to advanced forms of cardiovascular disease. This information will form the basis of clinical trials of new drug treatments under development at Pharmacia. Encode will receive contract fees and, if certain license options are exercised by Pharmacia, royalties on sales of diagnostic tests and on sales of cardiovascular drugs.

GeneMedix plc, of Newmarket, UK, which specializes in the production of protein drugs that are coming off patent, said it has launched its first product, granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor, in China. The company also announced approval to carry out trials of the product, Neustim, in Malaysia.

Isotis NV, of Bilthoven, the Netherlands, reported encouraging preliminary results from the first patient trials of its autologous tissue-engineered human bone, which is cultured from bone marrow cells. Twenty patients have been treated to date, 10 in orthopedic applications, the rest in maxillofacial applications. The company said that on the basis of results to date with the 10 latter patients it will start a multicenter clinical trial later this year.

Proteome Sciences plc, of Cobham, UK, said its U.S. subsidiary, Intronn Inc., successfully used a new approach to correct the gene defect that causes cystic fibrosis. In collaboration with the University of Iowa, Intronn used its SMaRT (spliceosome mediated RNA trans-splicing) technology to correct the single gene defect at the messenger RNA level, splicing out the mutated parts of the gene, and replacing it with the normal message. Using SMaRT reagents produced by Intronn, Iowa scientists partially restored normal chloride ion transport to the mutant CFTR protein in airway cells obtained from patients with cystic fibrosis. Details appear in the January 2002 issue of Nature Biotechnology.