4SC AG, of Martinsried, Germany, and Wilex AG, of Munich, Germany, entered a research collaboration to optimize and synthesize second-generation inhibitors of urokinase (human urokinase-type plasminogen activator, uPA), a protein known to play a role in tumor metastasis. 4SC will use its proprietary virtual high-throughput screening technology to build and screen virtual combinatorial libraries, consisting of several million molecules, for candidate compounds based on Wilex’s lead compound, WX-293. In return, 4SC will receive research funding and milestone payments.
Agraquest Inc., of Davis, Calif., focusing on the discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of environmentally friendly natural pest management products for the agricultural and institutional and home markets, set the price range and number of shares for its proposed initial public offering. The company anticipates selling 3.5 million shares at $11 to $13 apiece, raising $38.5 million to $45.5 million. Agraquest filed for its IPO in August.
Alpha Innotech Corp., of San Leandro, Calif., raised $8 million in its first round of venture funding. It will apply the funds to develop and market integrated analysis solutions for genomics research and drug discovery. BioAsia Investments LLC, of Palo Alto, Calif., led the financing. Alpha Innotech is a provider of imaging instrumentation and analysis systems for biotech research and drug discovery.
American Communications Enterprises Inc., of Naples, Fla., changed its name to NeoGenomics Inc. Effective Monday, the company’s common stock began trading on the Nasdaq OTC Bulletin Board under the new symbol, NOGN. The name change reflects the new direction of the company to that of a genome-based medical research company. NeoGenomics’ principal goal will be to conduct genetic research and develop products for the early diagnosis of women’s diseases, such as ovarian cancer, and diseases in prenatal infants.
Amerimmune Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Woodland Hills, Calif., reported that a Phase Ib trial is in progress to evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and activity of escalating doses of Cytolin in adults with HIV infection. The Phase Ib protocol calls for the administration of significantly higher, single escalating doses. This will enable pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic specimens to be analyzed and will provide data to identify a therapeutic dose and interval of administration for future studies.
Array BioPharma Inc., of Boulder, Colo., initiated a new drug discovery program with Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif. The new program will replace the existing PTP-1B collaboration that was announced in November 2000. Array will retain all rights to the existing PTP-1B program. Amgen will pay fees to Array based on the number of Array scientists working on the research phase of the agreement. Array will be entitled to receive success payments based on reaching certain research, development and commercialization milestones. Other terms were not announced.
Asdar Group, of Bellingham, Wash., acquired the right to purchase 31.6 percent of Toronto-based ACGT Corp., with the ability to acquire a further interest as warranted by the developments of ACGT. Asdar purchased the rights, title and interest in this transaction from third parties in exchange for the issuance of 8 million restricted Asdar shares. Asdar has committed to provide ACGT with $5 million over the next eight months for corporate development and working capital. The first advance of funds is scheduled for Feb. 18. ACGT has three distinct areas: DNA technology services, DNA diagnostic systems and gene therapy.
Biolog Inc., of Hayward, Calif., reached its target of developing Phenotype MicroArrays that test 2,000 cellular properties simultaneously, permitting the study of a wide range of cell properties (phenotypes) as a means of understanding how a gene or a drug affects living cells. The news was released at the Cambridge Health Institute’s fourth annual conference in Zurich, Switzerland.
Cel-Sci Corp., of Vienna, Va., presented evidence at the SMi “Anti-Inflammatory Therapeutics” conference in London that administration of a peptide based on the company’s L.E.A.P.S. technology has prevented the development, and lessened the severity, of the inflammation associated with experimental autoimmune myocarditis in mice. Results showed that anti-inflammatory cytokines are induced by injection of a L.E.A.P.S. peptide and may offer another approach that is more disease (antigen) specific.
Genteon Inc., of San Diego, and Advanced Chemistry Development Inc., of Toronto, signed an agreement under which ACD will provide its ACD/GeneManager software for integration with Genteon’s Capella 400, a high-throughput 384 capillary electrophoresis system for DNA polymorphism analysis. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Charles River Laboratories International Inc., said through wholly owned subsidiary Charles River Laboratories Inc., of Wilmington, Mass., it acquired DakDak Photoaging Technologies Inc. Charles River paid $1 million in cash to acquire substantially all the assets of DakDak. An additional $2 million in cash may be paid over three years, contingent on certain financial and technology development milestone achievements by Charles River using the acquired platform technology. The acquisition gives Charles River an in vitro technology platform that enables cosmetics and consumer product companies to screen products for safety and efficacy.
Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, said it received approval from the Canadian Therapeutic Products Directorate to market and distribute Myocet in Canada. Myocet, also approved in the European Union, is indicated for the first-line treatment of metastatic breast cancer in combination with cyclophosphamide. Myocet is a liposomal doxorubicin formulation.
eXegenics Inc., of Dallas, said that John Pople, the 1998 Nobel Laureate in chemistry, accepted the position of chairman of the company’s scientific advisory board. Pople, a trustees professor of chemistry at Northwestern University in Chicago, received the Nobel Prize for his development and application of computational methods in quantum chemistry. eXegenics is a post-genomics drug creation company.
Gliatech Inc., of Cleveland, said it received a Nasdaq staff determination on Thursday indicating that its common stock is subject to delisting from the Nasdaq National Market effective Jan. 18. The letter said Gliatech fails to comply with either the minimum net tangible asset requirement or minimum stockholders’ equity requirement for continued listing. In addition, Gliatech said it does not meet the requirements for listing on the Nasdaq SmallCap Market. Gliatech had cash of about $3 million on Dec. 31, enough to last through March, and is considering strategic alternatives. Gliatech’s stock (NASDAQ:GLIA) fell 40 cents, or 47 percent, Monday to close at 45 cents.
GlobeImmune Inc., of Denver, said it named John Wheeler president and CEO. Wheeler has more than 25 years of experience in the biomedical industry and joins GlobeImmune from Xtrana Inc., also of Denver, where he was president, CEO and director. GlobeImmune focuses on developing products that stimulate or suppress the human immune system.
Neurocrine Biosciences Inc., of San Diego, said its board approved an amendment to its shareholders rights plan to increase the initial exercise price of the rights issued pursuant to the plan from $51.75 to $350 per right. The increase is intended to preserve the effectiveness of the plan in view of recent appreciation of the company’s stock price. The company was advised by Robertson Stephens.
Neurotech SA, of Paris, reported that it had signed a license agreement with Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif. Operating out of Paris and Rhode Island, Neurotech has obtained the exclusive right from Amgen to develop and market ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) in local delivery of ophthalmology indications. It is known to have protective effects in animal models of retinitis pigmentosa, and Neurotech recently demonstrated proof of concept in animals that its encapsulated cell technology product, NT-501, delivers CNTF in the eye over an extended period of time and protects the retina from degeneration. Neurotech also was granted an exclusive license from the regents of the University of California under a patent claiming the use of CNTF in degenerative eye disease.
Oxford Gene Technology Ltd., of Oxford, England, and Arrow Therapeutics Ltd., of London, entered an agreement for Arrow to acquire OGT’s DNA microarray business. The deal includes a license to OGT’s patents and was largely funded in Arrow shares. Arrow’s efforts are focused on the discovery of compounds with novel mechanisms of action that will not inherit the microbial resistance problems affecting existing anti-infectives.
Peptor Ltd., of Rehovot, Israel, said it will begin a multicenter Phase II trial in the United States of its diabetes drug, DiaPep277. The peptide-based drug has been shown in a published study to stop the progression of Type I diabetes. DiaPep277 will be tested against latent autoimmune diabetes in adults, a disease in which, like Type I diabetes, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys beta cells in the pancreas, rendering the body unable to synthesize its own insulin. The company said this will be the first drug in a Phase II trial in the United States involving LADA patients.
Sicor Inc., of Irvine, Calif., purchased approximately 70 percent of its outstanding $3.75 convertible preferred stock from two major shareholders in exchange for a combination of approximately 1.1 million shares of Sicor common stock and more than $39 million in cash. The purchase eliminates nearly $4.3 million in annual dividend payments for Sicor, and leaves approximately 450,000 shares of the company’s convertible preferred stock outstanding.
Transition Therapeutics Inc., of Toronto, and Waratah Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Nun’s Island, Quebec, said shareholders of both companies approved the proposed merger of the companies. Shareholders of Waratah will receive 0.8333 common shares of Transition for each share of Waratah held. The combined company will retain the name Transition Therapeutics Inc. and will continue to be based in Toronto.
Tranzyme Inc., of Birmingham, Ala., and Ozgene Pty. Ltd., of Canning Vale, Australia, said they have a method for genetically modifying animals based on Tranzyme’s TranzVector technology and Ozgene’s transgenic animal production capabilities. The modified animals can be used in drug discovery, as well as large-scale production of therapeutic proteins. Tranzyme is engaged in the development of technologies for applied genomics, proteomics and drug discovery. Ozgene was established to produce genetically modified mice.
XTL Biopharmaceuticals Ltd., of Rehovot, Israel, reported positive clinical data on the antiviral activity and safety of XTL-002, a fully human, high-affinity monoclonal antibody for hepatitis C virus infections, which indicated that HCV viral RNA levels were reduced in more than half the patients following a single dose. The single-center study included 15 patients divided into five groups, with each group receiving 0.25, 1.0, 2.5, 10 or 40 mg of XTL-002 in a single intravenous infusion. In eight out of 15 patients, reduction of HCV viral load ranging from twofold to 100-fold was demonstrated following administration.