Antigenics Inc., of New York, plans to publicly offer approximately 4 million shares of its common stock, which would raise $64.76 million based on its opening price of $16.19 Wednesday. Antigenics intends to use proceeds for working capital and other corporate purposes. UBS Warburg LLC is acting as the lead underwriter in this offering and Robertson Stephens is acting as co-manager. Antigenics develops treatments for cancers, serious infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders and degenerative disorders.
Argonaut Technologies Inc., of Foster City, Calif., will cut costs by streamlining processes, reducing or eliminating discretionary expenditures and unfilled positions, controlling salary increases and reducing personnel. Argonaut expects to cut approximately 20 employees, nearly 13 percent, from its work force. The company expects that these actions will result in expense reductions of at least $4 million compared to expenses in 2001. The company expects to take one-time special charges associated with these actions of approximately $700,000 to $900,000 in the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31. The company will finalize these charges as part of its year-end audit and will report final fourth-quarter and full-year 2001 financial results, as well as provide an outlook for 2002, on Feb. 12.
ConjuChem Inc., of Montreal, closed a previously announced financing of $18.76 million principal amount of convertible senior subordinated notes with Baker/Tisch Investments. The convertible notes have a seven-year term and carry no interest for the first two years; annual interest of 7.07 percent will accrue thereafter for five years (interest is to be forgiven at the time of conversion). Baker/Tisch, at its option, can convert the debt into common stock of ConjuChem at a price per share of $3.32. ConjuChem can require the conversion of the note at the stipulated price upon the attainment of certain predetermined financial milestones. As part of the agreement, Felix Baker of Baker/Tisch has been appointed to ConjuChem’s board. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 10, 2001.)
Diversa Corp., of San Diego, was awarded a milestone payment of $1.3 million from Zymetrics Inc., in conjunction with research and development performed for Zymetrics. The milestone was earned as a result of Diversa’s discovery and optimization of novel enzymes with potential application in feed and food processing. Zymetrics is a contract joint venture formed in December 1999 between Diversa and Syngenta AG, of Basel, Switzerland, to commercialize functionally differentiated enzymes for animal nutrition and crop processing.
Gene Logic Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., introduced GeneExpress Reports, which is derived from the larger GeneExpress Suite. GeneExpress Reports comprise a smaller, more focused view of comprehensive gene expression data and provide answers to specific questions keyed to individual genes of interest.
Genome Therapeutics Corp., of Waltham, Mass., extended its genomics-based asthma research alliance with Schering-Plough Corp., of Madison, N.J. This extension allows for additional gene discovery work to continue at Genome Therapeutics. With the extension, and if all of the milestone payments are met, total payments to Genome Therapeutics could exceed $80 million, excluding royalties, of which approximately $33 million had been received through Sept. 29. In February 2001, the companies announced the discovery of a novel asthma gene, the first identification of a susceptibility gene for asthma in a large and diverse patient population.
Guilford Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Baltimore, licensed exclusive European development and commercialization rights for Dopascan Injection, its diagnostic imaging agent for Parkinson’s disease, to MAP Medical Technologies Oy, of Helsinki, Finland. MAP and its affiliated companies will receive exclusive development, marketing, sales and distribution rights to Dopascan for the European Union and other select markets. MAP will be responsible for seeking regulatory approvals, and for manufacturing, marketing and selling Dopascan in these countries. In turn, Guilford will receive an initial up-front payment, milestone payments and royalties on future product sales of Dopascan within MAP’s territories.
InKine Pharmaceutical Co. Inc., of Blue Bell, Pa., said it submitted a chemistry supplement to the FDA Sept. 21 for the approval of a new formulation of Visicol. The new formulation contains significantly less microcrystalline cellulose than the currently marketed Visicol tablets and also provides patients the benefit of a smaller tablet. The FDA has agreed that the reformulation would be reviewed as a Level 2 change pursuant to the FDA’s guidance on scale-up and post-approval changes. Such a change requires that the FDA be provided relevant manufacturing and stability information on the new formulation. The new formulation must be approved by the FDA before it can be marketed by InKine.
Norak Biosciences Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., and Universal Imaging Corp., of Downingtown, Pa., entered a collaborative agreement to enable biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies involved in drug discovery to study G protein-coupled receptors in high-content modes by combining two new screening technologies. UIC has developed analytical methods to detect and measure the response of both unknown and known GPCRs in the drug screening process. Successful secondary screens can cut the time required to market. Financial terms were not disclosed.
PPL Therapeutics plc, of Blacksburg, Va., produced knockout piglets, born as a result of using nuclear transfer (cloning) and PPL’s gene targeting technology. The five healthy births took place Dec. 25. In the future, this could enable organs and/or cells from such animals to be transplanted into humans and not be rejected by the human recipient. The gene that has been knocked out, the alpha 1,3 galactosyl transferase gene, is responsible for making an enzyme that adds a sugar to the surface of pig cells that is recognized by the human immune system as foreign. It therefore triggers an immune response leading to hyperacute rejection by the human patient, of the transplanted organ or cell, within minutes. In view of the fact that PPL’s financial resources are being focused primarily upon bringing its lead product, rAAT for hereditary emphysema, to the market as quickly as possible, PPL proposes to find a spinout partner to take the xeno and stem cell areas forward.
Sangamo BioSciences Inc., of Richmond, Calif., reported the publication of results using its engineered zinc finger DNA-binding proteins (ZFPs) to repress expression of a gene required for the development of fat cells (adipogenesis). The paper was published in the Jan. 1 issue of Genes & Development and is co-authored by scientists from Pfizer Inc., of New York, and Sangamo. The data represent an advance in the external application and validation of Sangamo’s ZFP transcription factor (ZFP-TF) technology, which enables the specific control of genes within an organism. Sangamo ZFP-TFs specifically repressed expression of a gene variant, or isoform, in a mouse cell type that is the precursor to fat cells. Repression of the gene prevented the cells from developing into mature fat cells.
Theratechnologies Inc., of Montreal, said that the syndicate of underwriters, led by Yorkton Securities Inc., exercised the overallotment option granted to them, pursuant to the underwriting agreement dated Nov. 28, and that they have purchased 382,000 additional common shares for a total amount of $2.45 million. This transaction brings to $18.78 million the total amount of the offering. Theratechnologies developed a therapeutic platform offering numerous applications in the field of therapeutic peptides. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 28, 2001.)
Therion Biologics Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., reported that the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research began the first European Phase I trial for its two-component vaccine targeting the tumor antigen NY-ESO-1. In this study, the Ludwig Institute will evaluate the safety and potential activity of Therion’s pox virus-based vaccine for enhancing the body’s immune response against cancer. This initial study will include approximately 60 patients with a wide variety of ESO-expressing tumors, including breast and bladder cancer, melanoma and some sarcoma patients. The Ludwig Institute expects to complete the trial in mid-2003.