¿ Abgenix Inc., of Fremont, Calif., said it has plans for Raymond Withy to succeed Scott Greer as CEO in mid-2002. Withy will join the company¿s board of directors immediately. Greer will remain as chairman and an officer of the company, and also will be involved in the strategic management of Abgenix. Withy has been an officer at Abgenix since its founding in 1996, and is now the company¿s president and chief operating officer.
¿ Allergan Inc., of Irvine, Calif., said the Committee for Proprietary Medicinal Products recommended Lumigan (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution, 0.03 percent), its new glaucoma therapy, for approval by the European Commission. The FDA approved the product in March. Lumigan also has received approval in six Latin American countries.
¿ Bioheart Inc., of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received an equity investment from Getz Medical, a division of Getz Bros. & Co. Inc., of Chicago, as part of a $5 million round of financing. Also, the companies entered a long-term marketing and distribution agreement for the Asia Pacific region. Additional participants in the round included Ascent Medical Technology Venture Capital Fund and a previously announced investment by Guidant Corp. Bioheart¿s principal product, called MyoCell, is designed to regenerate damaged muscle tissue through the transplantation of skeletal muscle cells.
¿ BioNumerik Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Antonio, withdrew its initial public offering, citing market conditions. The company originally filed to enter the public markets in March, seeking about $50 million, according to its prospectus. BioNumerik designs and develops drugs for the treatment of cancer and prevention of side effects associated with existing cancer therapies. (See BioWorld Today, March 6, 2001.)
¿ Celgene Corp., of Warren, N.J., and the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University said data from an in vitro study determined that thalidomide and Immunomodulatory Drugs (IMiDs) inhibited COX-2. The data were published in the November 2001 issue of Clinical Cancer Research. Based on the data, the Celgene and Weill Cornell expanded their research partnership to a three-year collaboration to evaluate the molecular mechanism by which thalidomide and IMiDs regulate COX-2 expression. Financial details were not disclosed.
¿ DoubleTwist Inc., of Oakland, Calif., said Neurogen Corp., of Branford, Conn., and Evotec NeuroSciences GmbH, of Hamburg, Germany, purchased subscriptions to DoubleTwist¿s GenomeZone service for genomic research. The service provides subscribers with online access to the entire DoubleTwist Annotated Human Genome Database. Financial terms were not disclosed.
¿ Genome Prairie, of Calgary, Alberta, appointed Randal Johnston as its first president and CEO. Genome Prairie operates in collaboration with Genome Canada and four other regional genome research centers. Genome Prairie directs and funds research and development in genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics and related areas of ethics, legal and social impact of genomics research. Partners of Genome Prairie include the provincial governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba; the private sector; federal laboratories; universities; and other national and international research agencies.
¿ Hybridon Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said a study conducted by both itself and the University of Alabama at Birmingham shows antisense therapy can attack breast cancer and enhance the effects of standard chemotherapy. The study was published in Clinical Cancer Research (Vol. 7, November 2001, p. 3613-3624) and demonstrated an approach involving a specific antisense that inhibits the expression of a cancer-causing gene known as MDM2.
¿ Immtech International Inc., of Vernon Hills, Ill., said it received a Nasdaq Staff Determination Letter indicating that the company does not comply with either the shareholders¿ equity or the market capitalization, or total assets and total revenue requirements for continued listing on the Nasdaq market. Immtech has requested a hearing before a Nasdaq Listing Qualification Panel to review the letter.
¿ Immtech International Inc., of Vernon Hills, Ill., said its scientific consortium identified a new class of compounds that have the potential to be used as an oral alternative to insulin injections for treatment of Type II diabetes. Immtech¿s consortium discovered the compounds were causing an increase in insulin secretion. The company has decided to initiate a research program to test lead compounds in animal models.
¿ Incyte Genomics Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., signed an agreement with Dr. Reddy¿s Laboratories Ltd., of Hyderabad, India, and Reddy US Therapeutics Inc., of Atlanta, allowing the companies access to LifeSeq Gold, Incyte¿s gene sequence database, and to ZooSeq, its animal model database. Financial terms were not disclosed.
¿ MTS Health Partners LP, of New York, closed its private equity fund, raising $110 million, although it said it anticipates a subsequent closing by mid-2002. The fund generally invests more than $10 million in operating companies involved in acute care, distribution, health care information and technology, managed care, medical devices and technology, pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical services and post-acute care. Also, Andrew Paul was named chairman.
¿ Oxford GlycoSciences plc, of Oxford, UK, signed an exclusive agreement with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., headquartered in Israel, for the marketing and distribution of Vevesca in Israel. Teva will submit Vevesca for regulatory approval in Israel, following European Union or United States approval. Financial terms were not disclosed. Vevesca is a compound for the treatment of Type I Gaucher¿s disease and is under review by both European and U.S. regulatory authorities.
¿ Northfield Laboratories Inc., of Evanston, Ill., said it received comments from the FDA¿s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research on the biologics license application for its oxygen-carrying blood substitute, PolyHeme, submitted in August. The center indicated it is seeking additional information before accepting the application for filing and issued a refusal-to-file letter to the company. Northfield said the letter included both questions and comments about PolyHeme and the company said it would move quickly to address the issues. PolyHeme is essentially a solution of polymerized hemoglobin that has a longer shelf life than blood, requires no cross matching and does not transmit disease, the company said. Northfield¿s stock (NASDAQ:NFLD) dropped $3.45 Tuesday, or about 26 percent, to close at $9.80. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 29, 2001.)
¿ OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Melville, N.Y., said its partner, F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, initiated a Phase III trial evaluating the use of Tarceva (OSI-774) in combination with gemcitabine/cisplatin for non-small-cell lung cancer. Tarceva is being developed in a three-way alliance between OSI, Roche and Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco. The multicenter 1,000-patient study will be conducted by Roche and is one of two randomized, controlled Phase III trials in non-small-cell lung cancer to be conducted by the alliance. The endpoint for the trial is improvement in patient survival. The second Phase III front-line combination study, this one combining Tarceva with carboplatin and paclitaxel, was initiated by Genentech in July. Also, OSI said a Phase Ib trial was initiated evaluating Tarceva in combination with docetaxel and capecitabine in patients with advanced breast cancer who have relapsed after initial chemotherapy treatment. That trial also will be conducted by Roche and will take place in Spain and the UK. Tarceva also is in a Phase III pancreatic cancer trial, a Phase II metastatic breast cancer trial and several Phase Ib studies. (See BioWorld Today, July 26, 2001, and Oct. 25, 2001.)
¿ Progen Industries Ltd., of Brisbane, Australia, said a study conducted at the University of Oslo in Norway demonstrated the potential use of Progen¿s anticancer drug, PI-88, to fight leukemia. The study showed that PI-88 caused a reduction in the number of circulating tumor cells using a mouse model of human juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, and a rat model of human acute promyelocytic leukemia. Progen initiated a Phase II trial of PI-88 in melanoma patients earlier this year.
¿ Proteome Systems Ltd., of Sydney, Australia, and IBM Life Sciences, of Armonk, N.Y., entered an alliance in which IBM will provide the information technology backbone for Proteome Systems¿ commercial offerings, including its platform for proteome analysis, ProteomIQ. The companies will collaborate on research initiatives and marketing programs. Also, IBM will supply hardware, software and services, as needed, for Proteome¿s in-house research and databases. Financial details were not disclosed.
¿ SkyePharma plc, of London, served notice to terminate all agreements with Bioglan Pharma plc, of Hertfordshire, UK, concerning the license of the product Solaraze for marketing in Europe, the United States, Canada and Mexico. Bioglan has been asked to provide redress for certain material breaches raised in the notice, SkyePharma said. The agreements provide for SkyePharma to receive payments from Bioglan totaling $10 million by the end of 2001. Solaraze was launched in Europe as a treatment for actinic keratosis and has been approved for launch in the United States.
¿ Theratechnologies Inc., of Montreal, received FDA clearance to initiate a Phase II trial of its ThGRF (TH 9507) growth hormone releasing factor analogue in patients with controlled Type II diabetes. The company is conducting four Phase II trials in Canada and Europe with the compound. The objective of the trial will be to evaluate the safety of two doses of TH 9507 administered over 12 weeks by daily subcutaneous injections in about 45 patients with stable Type II diabetes.
¿ Tripos Inc., of St. Louis, said its decision-support program, CombiFlexX, for in silico screening of combinatorial libraries, was released. CombiFlexX is designed to help scientists eliminate unpromising candidates at the earliest stages of research.
¿ Viral Genetics Inc., of South Pasadena, Calif., changed its name from 5 Starliving Online Inc., effective Tuesday. Its new ticker symbol is ¿VRAL.¿ Viral Genetics was founded in 1995 to discover, develop and commercialize therapeutic and diagnostic systems for the treatment of viral diseases.