¿ Abingworth Management Ltd., of London, announced the final closing of $225 million for Abingworth Bioventures III LP, its new life science venture fund. The fund was oversubscribed and was capped at this total, significantly in excess of its original $150 million target. The fund will be used to invest in early stage biotechnology and medical companies, in the UK, Europe and the United States.
¿ Acambis plc, of Cambridge, UK, said the financing for the reactivation of its manufacturing facility in Canton, Mass., is being arranged through its partner and shareholder, Baxter Healthcare Corp., of Deerfield, Ill. Once completed, the facility is slated to produce both antiviral and antibacterial vaccines. Baxter is to provide up to $40 million of lease financing.
¿ Actelion Ltd., of Allschwil, Switzerland, announced the commercial availability in the United States of Tracleer, an orally active endothelin receptor antagonist for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Tracleer, approved by the FDA on Nov. 20, was shown to improve exercise ability and decrease the rate of clinical worsening of patients. Separately, Accredo Health Inc., of Memphis, Tenn., said its wholly owned subsidiary, Nova Factor Inc., signed a distribution agreement with Actelion for Tracleer. Also, Gentiva Health Services, of Melville, N.Y., said it had been selected to distribute Tracleer.
¿ Bionomics Ltd., of North Adelaide, Australia, was awarded a federal government Start Grant of A$1.74 million (US$901,000) for its research in breast cancer. The competitive, merit-based grant will build on research by company scientists working both in-house and in collaboration with the Women¿s & Children¿s Hospital team in Adelaide. The research has identified candidate tumor genes, including BNO-64, which the company said might be involved in up to 50 percent of all breast cancers.
¿ Cephalon Inc., of West Chester, Pa., said it intends to raise $300 million through an offering of convertible subordinated notes to qualified institutional buyers. The notes would be convertible at any time into Cephalon common stock at a premium of not less than 10 percent to the market price at the execution of the definitive purchase agreement. The notes will rank equally with Cephalon¿s other outstanding convertible subordinated notes and will be junior to the company¿s senior indebtedness. Cephalon plans to use the net proceeds for a portion of the purchase price of its $450 million acquisition of Group Lafon, of Maisons Alfort, France, this week. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 4, 2001.)
¿ Corvas International Inc., of San Diego, said results from a Phase IIa study show its anticoagulant rNAPc2 appears to be safe and well tolerated when administered to patients prior to elective percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty. The data also showed that, in contrast to standard therapy with heparin and aspirin alone, rNAPc2 effectively suppresses the formation of thrombin, a serine protease that is a factor in causing blood to clot.
¿ Cytovax Biotechnologies Inc., of Edmonton, Alberta, said Shire Pharmaceuticals Group plc, of Andover, UK, will not exercise an option for a monoclonal antibody product for Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The decision was made based on a development and license agreement between the companies in June 2000. Shire will continue development of Cytovax¿s lead product, Cytovaccine, for Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. Shire will pay royalties to Cytovax on sales of Cytovaccine, and Cytovax may receive milestone payments and equity investments.
¿ EraGen Biosciences Inc., of Madison, Wis., entered a research agreement with McGill University in Montreal to design universal DNA microarrays using proprietary Aegis technology. The project will produce universal arrays that are not specific to a single organism or set of genes and will allow for simultaneous monitoring of multiple hybridizations. The first phase of the project includes extending existing algorithms to use EraGen¿s nonstandard Aegis bases in universal hybridization sequences. The second phase is to co-develop software that uses a thermodynamic model to detect DNA secondary structure formation.
¿ ExonHit Therapeutics, of Paris, and bioMirieux-Pierre Fabre, of Paris, entered a five-year alliance to develop ExonHit¿s cancer diagnostic, Proof-Hit, for breast and colon cancer. Based on bioMirieux-Pierre Fabre¿s clinical expertise (biopsies and blood samples from patients with breast or colon cancers), ExonHit will leverage its core Datas (Differential Analysis of Transcripts with Alternative Splicing) technology to define genetic signatures that will be compiled on its analytical macroarrays.
¿ Farber Family Foundation Inc., of Philadelphia, gave $10 million to Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia to establish a new neurosciences research institute, one of the largest gifts the university has ever received. The institute will be named the Farber Institute for Neurosciences and initially will focus on basic and clinical research in Alzheimer¿s disease, Parkinson¿s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other neurodegenerative disorders.
¿ Incara Pharmaceuticals Corp., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., conducted a pre-investigational new drug meeting with the FDA regarding clinical studies of transplantation of liver cells containing liver progenitor and stem cells for liver failure. They reviewed ongoing and planned preclinical studies, cell processing procedures and the appropriateness of various patient populations for initial clinical trials. Incara expects to file an investigational new drug application within the next six months.
¿ Invitrogen Corp., of San Diego, said it plans to offer about $400 million in convertible subordinated notes, or $500 million if an option for an additional $100 million is exercised in full. Invitrogen plans to use the proceeds from the offering for working capital and general corporate purposes, including research and development, and potential acquisitions.
¿ Molecular Mining Corp., of Raleigh, N.C., entered an agreement with NextGen Sciences Ltd., of Cambridgeshire, UK, in the area of protein biochips. The scope of the collaborative agreement adapts the companies¿ respective products for optimal integration and productivity and co-promotes their products.
¿ New Jersey Institute of Technology, of Newark, N.J., awarded Daniel Goldman, an institute professor, a Whitaker Foundation grant for $208,000 to study sepsis. Goldman said he will research how sepsis affects oxygen delivery to cells and kills tissue.
¿ Paladin Labs Inc., of Montreal, said Antizol (fomepizole) injection was approved by the Therapeutic Products Directorate of Health Canada to treat confirmed or suspected methanol poisonings. Methanol poisoning is the second indication for Antizol in Canada, in addition to confirmed or suspected ethylene glycol (antifreeze) poisoning. Paladin acquired the exclusive rights to Antizol from Orphan Medical Inc., of Minneapolis, in June 1999.
¿ Phytopharm plc, of London, completed the third and final stage of its proof-of-principle clinical study of P57, a patented product under development as an appetite suppressant for the treatment of obesity and related conditions. The objectives of this stage of the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study included safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetic profile and effect on calorie intake. Preliminary data indicated there was a statistically significant reduction in the average daily calorie intake of the P57 group compared with the placebo group (p=0.014). It also showed a statistically significant reduction in body fat (p=0.035).
¿ Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y., filed a registration statement on Form S-3 with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing allows holders of the 5.5 percent convertible senior subordinated notes due 2008 to resell their notes and the shares of common stock into which they are convertible at a current conversion price of about $30.25 per share. Regeneron sold $200 million of convertible notes on Oct. 17 to qualified institutional buyers. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 15, 2001.)
¿ Senesco Technologies Inc., of New Brunswick, N.J., completed a $2 million placement of equity securities with Stanford Venture Capital Holdings Inc., part of The Stanford Financial Group, of Houston. The offering consisted of slightly more than 1.1 million shares of common stock, warrants to purchase 500,000 shares of common stock with an exercise price of $2 per share and warrants to an additional 500,000 shares of common stock with an exercise price of $3.25 per share. The functional genomics company focuses on controlling the senescence of plants.
¿ Theratechnologies Inc., of Montreal, filed a final short-form prospectus with each of the Canadian Securities Commissions (except Prince Edward Island) relating to a public issue of common shares of its common stock, for a total of C$26 million (US$16.5 million), based on the sale of 2.5 million shares at C$10.25 per share. It also granted the underwriters an overallotment option to acquire an additional 382,000 common shares at the same price, which may be exercised during a 30-day period from the closing of the offering. Closing is expected about Dec. 13.
¿ Transition Therapeutics Inc., of Toronto, acquired the intellectual property to Los Angeles-based Biogenesys Inc.¿s methyldonor technology, designed to treat multiple sclerosis and other diseases. TTI said the intellectual property provides it with additional protection for its interferon combination therapy being developed for MS.
¿ Venture Investment Management Corp., of Boston, said it plans to enter the biosciences arena with the appointment of two life sciences entrepreneurs with extensive management and investment expertise. Dana Ono and David Marcus joined VIMAC as directors. They will pursue bench-top and early stage investment opportunities in genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics in the eastern United States and Canada.
¿ Versant Ventures, of Menlo Park, Calif., closed its $400 million Versant Venture Capital II fund, representing a significant increase over the firm¿s initial $250 million fund. With the second fund¿s closing, total capital under management will reach more than $670 million. Versant will continue to concentrate on investments in early stage health care companies in core areas of medical health care information technology.