¿ Abbott Laboratories Inc., of Abbott Park, Ill., said it started its cash tender offer for Vysis Inc., of Downers Grove, Ill., for common shares at $30.50 per share in connection to its recently announced merger. The $355 million cash offer is scheduled to expire Nov. 29. The consummation is subject to receipt of at least 51 percent of the Vysis shares, on a fully diluted basis, and other conditions. As part of the deal, Abbott entered into an agreement with Amoco Technology Co., an affiliate of BP plc and owner of about 65 percent of the outstanding shares of Vysis, under which Amoco would tender all of its Vysis shares. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 25, 2001.)
¿ Advanced Tissue Sciences Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., was awarded a $1.4 million Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. The three-year grant is to develop tissue-engineered articular cartilage designed to better withstand the extreme forces experienced in the human body. ATS intends to further develop its patented bioreactor technology to grow cartilage using stresses, including compression and fluid flow, that mimic the forces cartilage is naturally exposed to in the body.
¿ Albany Molecular Research Inc., of Albany, N.Y., reported plans to relocate its Biocatalysis Division from Iowa City, Iowa, to the Chicago area, effective next year. The division, currently located in the University of Iowa¿s Oakdale Research Park in Iowa City, will move its operations to the company¿s recently acquired facilities in Mount Prospect, Ill.
¿ AltaRex Corp., of Waltham, Mass., closed a previously announced private placement of 7.2 million special units at C$1.75 per unit, resulting in gross proceeds to the company of C$12.6 million (US$7.9 million). The net proceeds will be used to continue funding of OvaRex MAb, which is in late-stage clinical development for the treatment of ovarian cancer, and for working capital purposes. The financing was led by Yorkton Securities Inc. and the syndicate included Wells Fargo Van Kasper.
¿ Amersham Biosciences, of Piscataway, N.J., and scientists from the University of Delaware conducted the first-ever DNA sequencing experiments carried out while at sea. Using the research vessel Atlantis and submersible Alvin, the team is carrying out an environmental genomic study of the life that inhabits super-hot hydrothermal vents almost 2 miles deep in the Pacific Ocean. By the end of the 17-day research cruise, scientists estimate that they will sequence just under 2 million base pairs of DNA from different microbes and organisms that live in and around the vents, an amount of DNA equivalent to the size of a small bacterial genome.
¿ Antigenics Inc., of New York, said clinical and molecular data from a study evaluating Oncophage in patients with metastatic melanoma are being featured at the American Association for Cancer Research-National Cancer Institute-European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer conference in Miami Beach, Fla. The Phase II results reported responses in five of 28 evaluable patients whose melanoma had spread throughout the body.
¿ AnVil Informatics Inc., of Lowell, Mass., appointed Richard Gill president and CEO. Previously, Gill served as president and CEO of ActiveCyte Inc., of Newton, Mass. AnVil works to provide in silico drug discovery services and other integrated solutions that typically include a mix of professional services and custom software tools.
¿ Ardais Corp., of Boston, reported the online deployment of its BIGR Library and suite of proprietary bioinformatics tools to qualified biomedical researchers in industry and academia. The BIGR (Biomaterials and Information for Genomic Research) Library, currently comprising tens of thousands of research-quality clinical materials and associated clinical information, enables researchers to identify and validate new biological targets.
¿ Argenta Discovery Ltd., of Harlow, UK, and De Novo Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, entered into a collaborative agreement directed toward certain De Novo drug discovery targets. Argenta will provide De Novo with synthetic chemistry and screening services for the generation and testing of low-molecular-weight, drug-like compounds whose design has been driven by De Novo¿s proprietary computational modeling. No other details of the agreement were disclosed.
¿ Beyond Genomics Inc., of Waltham, Mass., licensed from the Advanced Research & Technology Institute at Indiana University a patented technology for high-throughput protein analysis called Ion Mobility Mass Spectrometry (IMMS). IMMS enables the development of new generations of mass spectrometers that can rapidly sort and characterize thousands of proteins from complex biological samples such as blood serum or cell extracts. Beyond and Indiana University also will work to form commercial relationships to fully develop IMMS.
¿ Cell Pathways Inc., of Horsham, Pa., presented data from a Phase I safety and dose-ranging study of Aptosyn (exisulind) plus CPT-11 (Camptosar, Irinotecan) in 14 patients with colorectal cancer and other solid tumors who had failed at least two prior regimens. Data showed the combination to be generally well tolerated by patients. Investigators reported no dose-limiting toxicities at any dose combination level tested. In addition, the investigators observed an 80 percent reduction in tumor in one patient with heavily pre-treated gastric cancer and stable disease in another gastric cancer patient.
¿ Cellomics Inc., of Pittsburgh, withdrew its initial public offering, citing market conditions. The company filed for its IPO in March 2000 and set its price range at $16 to $18 and its number of shares at 6 million the following month. In November 2000 it decreased its range to $13 to $11, and decreased it again to $8 to $10 in December. The company focuses on cellomics, the study of the molecules that make up a cell and their interactions.
¿ Cell Therapeutics Inc., of Seattle, said that preliminary results of two trials demonstrated that PG-TXL (CT-2103), given alone or in combination with cisplatin, shrinks tumors in patients with advanced cancer who have failed standard treatments. PG-TXL was well tolerated and rarely caused serious side effects. The results were presented at the AACR-NCI-EORTC conference. In a Phase I/II multicenter trial, 29 patients with recurrent ovarian or peritoneal cancer who had experienced progressive disease following two prior chemotherapy regimens and who had received prior paclitaxel were treated with PG-TXL as a 10-minute intravenous infusion every 21 days. A Phase I study being conducted at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston is evaluating PG-TXL in combination with cisplatin in seven patients.
¿ Cetek Corp., of Marlborough, Mass., debuted its Natural Product Drug Discovery Program at the Massachusetts Opportunities Biotechnology Investors conference. Several components drive the program: Cetek¿s capillary electrophoresis technology, a new-generation high-throughput fractionation system and its high-throughput compound structural analysis and identification capability that will comprise over 40,000 extracts by the end of next year.
¿ EntreMed Inc., of Rockville, Md., released Phase I data showing that Angiostatin is safe with no dose-limiting toxicity when combined with radiation therapy to treat advanced cancers. No added toxicity was observed in normal tissue within the radiation portal. The study reports all patients achieved partial response to the treatment and the trial continues at higher dose levels. The patients in the study, conducted at Philadelphia¿s Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, received infusions of Angiostatin intravenously five times weekly, just prior to radiotherapy during a five- to seven-week treatment period.
¿ Gemin X Biotechnologies Inc., of Montreal, reported at the AACR-NCI-EORTC conference that its series of small molecules, GX01, selectively induce apoptosis (the natural process of cell death) in cancer cells. While GX01 compounds enter both cancerous and normal cells, the cancerous cells show a significantly greater apoptotic response at low nanomolar concentrations. The selectivity that GX01 compounds demonstrate for cancerous cells indicates that GX01¿s action requires the presence of oncogenic changes in the cell. This selectivity also was observed in vivo.
¿ NeoPharm Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., reported clinical data for liposome encapsulated paclitaxel (LEP) at the AACR-NCI-EORTC conference. In the study, LEP is administered weekly for six weeks using an intravenous infusion. Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J., is developing LEP under a licensing agreement. ¿In the Pharmacia study involving weekly dosing of LEP, an extended terminal half-life was observed,¿ NeoPharm Chief Scientific Officer Imran Ahmad said. ¿This is a significant improvement because more paclitaxel appears to be available to attack tumors over the six-week administration schedule.¿
¿ NeoTherapeutics Inc., of Irvine, Calif., presented data at the AACR-NCI-EORTC conference showing Neotrofin¿s activity on chemotherapy-induced neuropathy. The company¿s oncology subsidiary, NeoOncoRx, expects to begin two Phase II studies of Neotrofin in chemotherapy-induced neuropathy during the fourth quarter. Each multicenter study will include 50 patients undergoing treatment for six months.
¿ Ortec International Inc., of New York, said a preliminary review of the first 13 patients completing its pivotal venous leg ulcer trial using Ortec¿s cryopreserved form of OrCel indicated that nine patients achieved 100 percent wound closure in 12 weeks. Also, all four patients who did not achieve 100 percent wound closure within 12 weeks achieved 90 percent wound closure. No clinically relevant immune responses were evident in any of the patients treated.
¿ OxiGene Inc., of Watertown, Mass., completed the Phase I U.S. trial of its antitumor vascular targeting agent, Combretastatin A4 Prodrug (CA4P). The trial generated statistically significant findings demonstrating CA4P¿s ability to successfully reduce blood flow that feeds malignant tumors, as evidenced by MRI. CA4P is the first vascular targeting drug to be tested in a human trial in the United States. Data from the 25-patient trial conducted at the Ireland Cancer Center at University Hospitals of Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University were presented at the AACR-NCI-EORTC conference.
¿ Procyon BioPharma Inc., of Montreal, said research findings indicated certain autoantibodies in the blood of healthy individuals, particularly older people, may hold clues to treating and managing cancers. Data were published in the August issue of Trends in Immunology. The research found that nonpathogenic antinuclear autoantibodies (ANA) preferentially bind to cancer cells and cause the cells to die via the immune system. The company said this suggests the presence of circulating ANAs is associated with a slower progression of cancer and an increased survival rate. Procyon is developing the 2C5 monoclonal antibody that it said has the potential to serve the same purpose.
¿ Prolinx Inc., of Bothell, Wash., released its protein microarray product line, Versalinx Protein Microarray Technology.
¿ Protarga Inc., of King of Prussia, Pa., reported a multicenter Phase II study of Taxoprexin DHA-paclitaxel for the treatment of advanced breast cancer, the first taxane therapy these patients are receiving for their advanced disease. The Phase II Taxoprexin study is part of a multinational Phase II program designed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of Taxoprexin DHA-paclitaxel in eight types of cancer and up to a total of 400 patients. Twenty-nine centers located in the U.S. and Europe are participating in studies for cancers of the breast, colon/rectum, kidney, lung, pancreas, prostate, skin and stomach.
¿ Remedyne Corp., of Santa Barbara, Calif., said its platform technology, D.A.M. (DNA Adenine Methylase), is featured in the November issue of Infection and Immunity. The article states a Remedyne vaccine produced a cross-protective immunity against multiple Salmonella strains in mice and was not immunosuppressive. Experiments showed Remedyne¿s vaccine stimulated a higher level of immune response than the natural immunity elicited in mice that survived virulent infection, the company said.
¿ Synaptic Pharmaceutical Corp., of Paramus, N.J., filed an amended lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey against Euroscreen SA, of Brussels, Belgium. The suit alleges Euroscreen infringed numerous issued U.S. patents owned by Synaptic, relating to cloned human receptors and their use in binding assays. The suit is part of a pending law suit brought by Synaptic against MDS Panlabs Inc. and its subsidiary Panlabs Taiwan Ltd.
¿ Telik Inc., of South San Francisco, presented new data on the molecular events involved in apoptosis induced by TLK286, Telik¿s small-molecule drug currently in Phase II trials in colorectal, ovarian and non-small-cell lung cancer. The data show TLK286 produces apoptosis in a concentration- and time-dependent manner, the company said.
¿ Therion Biologics Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., reported that the AACR-NCI-EORTC conference is featuring its CEA/TRICOM vaccine as a next-generation therapeutic for improved treatment of tumors found in a majority of colorectal cancer patients. CEA/TRICOM, a product designed to enhance the body¿s immune response against cancers expressing the CEA tumor antigen, is in Phase I trials at Georgetown University. Preliminary clinical results show CEA/TRICOM to be safe and well tolerated in all patients. In addition, Georgetown researchers observed clinical activity in at least one patient. The patient¿s PET scan showed complete clearance of metastatic tumors previously found throughout the upper chest; furthermore, the patient has remained stable for over nine months. The Phase I trial is nearing 50 percent enrollment.
¿ Xenova Group plc, of Slough, UK, reported the publication of new research data, at the AACR-NCI-EORTC conference. The preclinical studies were conducted with biopsy samples taken from 24 ovarian and 27 cutaneous melanoma patients. The data demonstrated a more than 20-fold enhancement of potency for XR11576 and XR5944, two of Xenova¿s second-generation topoisomerase inhibitors, relative to a first-generation inhibitor (XR5000). It is anticipated that XR11576 will enter Phase I/II clinical trials before the end of the year.