¿ Acacia Research Corp., of Pasadena, Calif., said its majority-owned subsidiary, CombiMatrix Corp., of Mukilteo, Wash., formed a joint venture with Marubeni Japan, of Tokyo. The joint venture, based in Tokyo, will focus on development and licensing opportunities for CombiMatrix¿s biochip technology with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in the Japanese market. Marubeni provided the funding for the operations and management team by acquiring a minority interest in the joint venture.
¿ Aclara BioSciences Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., said it extended its collaboration with The R.W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute (RWJPRI) and Janssen Research Foundation (JRF), both subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J., by providing them with early access to certain Aclara technologies for drug discovery. As part of this collaboration, RWJPRI recently received a prototype microfluidic instrument from Aclara for use in drug discovery. In addition, RWJPRI and JRF will receive early access to Aclara¿s eTag assay technology, which enables the simultaneous profiling of multiple analytes in a single sample.
¿ Agilent Technologies Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., and Paradigm Genetics Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., reported a multiyear collaboration to commercialize the first whole Arabidopsis thaliana genome microarray for use in gene expression studies. Its content will represent all relevant genes necessary to conduct gene expression analysis of Arabidopsis, one of the most widely studied plant genomes. This unique microarray is the result of research conducted at Paradigm leveraging both Agilent¿s technology access program for custom-printed DNA microarrays and Paradigm¿s gene function expertise. Paradigm will collaborate with Agilent on the design and commercialization of this microarray, which is expected to be available by the end of the year. Agilent will design and manufacture the microarray. Paradigm will receive volume discounts on microarrays and royalties from co-developed products.
¿ Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., reported the discovery of a series of highly potent antitumor compounds that selectively inhibit oncogenic protein tyrosine kinases overexpressed and/or hyperactive in common cancers. The protein tyrosine kinases c-Src, c-Abl and Her2/neu have been implicated convincingly in human cancer and are well-validated cell-signaling targets for treating cancer. Ariad used structure-based drug design and chemoinformatics to develop highly potent and selective small-molecule inhibitors of these oncogenic protein tyrosine kinases. The company¿s stock (NASDAQ:ARIA) bucked a down market day Monday, gaining $1.24, or 39 percent, to close at $4.41.
¿ Genaco Biomedical Products Inc., of Huntsville, Ala., entered a multiyear agreement with Luminex Corp., of Riverside, Calif., permitting Genaco to develop and commercialize reagent kits based on the Luminex LabMAP platform for the Chinese in vitro diagnostics market. Genaco received preferential distribution rights in China for the Luminex 100, based on Genaco meeting future minimum sales requirements. The LabMAP platform will be marketed in China under the brand name Gena MASA (Multi-Analyte Suspension Array). Initially, Genaco plans to release reagent kits focused on several infectious diseases.
¿ Atto BioScience Inc., of Rockville, Md., raised $3 million in its first round of equity financing. Investors were led by Emerging Technology Partners LLC, of Rockville. Atto BioScience, formerly known as Atto Instruments, develops, manufactures and markets products enabling real-time kinetic and structural analysis of biological reactions taking place in individual living cells.
¿ Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York, accepted for purchase 14,392,003 shares of common stock of ImClone Systems Inc., of New York, tendered in its offer, which expired at midnight Friday. The shares accepted represent approximately 19.9 percent of the approximately 72 million ImClone shares outstanding just prior to the offer¿s commencement. The completion of the tender offer is part of a strategic agreement between Bristol-Myers Squibb and ImClone to co-develop and co-promote IMC-C225, ImClone¿s investigational monoclonal antibody, in the U.S., Canada and Japan. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 20, 2001.)
¿ ChemGenex Therapeutics Inc., of Menlo Park, Calif., began patient enrollment in a pilot Phase I/II study of its investigational anticancer drug Ceflatonin as a potential treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Following enrollment of the first few patients at this center, ChemGenex plans to expand the open-label study to other investigational sites, accruing up to 20 patients with APL. Patients will receive a continuous 24-hour intravenous infusion of Ceflatonin daily for 14 days every four weeks until either a complete remission is achieved, the patient does not respond after three months of therapy or unacceptable toxicity is observed. Those who achieve a complete remission will continue treatment daily for seven days every four weeks, for up to 12 cycles of therapy in total. Investigators will analyze plasma samples from treated patients to assess the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic relationships of Ceflatonin.
¿ Cytochroma Inc., of Kingston, Ontario, raised C$12 million (US$7.6 million) in private equity financing to further advance its business and research objectives of discovering and developing therapeutics based on cytochrome P450-based metabolism. The Business Development Bank of Canada served as lead investor, with new participation from Novo A/S, of Denmark, and VentureLink Capital Corp., of Toronto, as well as participation from existing investors GeneChem Technologies Venture Fund LP, Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund, and Working Ventures Canadian Fund. Cytochroma¿s technology consists of a bioinformatics-based approach to cytochrome P450 gene discovery named CYP-ID, an integrated process for protein function identification termed Lipidomics, and a novel drug-screening approach named CYP-HIT.
¿ Cytomyx Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, launched its new gene expression profiling services, providing customers with sensitive and accurate determination of gene expression levels in a broad range of tissues. These new services will allow Cytomyx clients to select optimal targets for high-throughput screening efforts. The company also is using the gene expression profiling technology platform as part of its discovery research program, through which it is seeking novel genes and proteins.
¿ DNAPrint Genomics Inc., of Sarasota, Fla., said its scientists discovered the world¿s first genomics ¿solution¿ for predicting the shade of eye color from human DNA. The discovery is the company¿s first genomics-based classification product, Retinome, which is capable of using a DNA specimen to predict the degree to which an individual¿s retinas are pigmented with over 96 percent accuracy. The company said Retinome is the first comprehensive genetic test capable of revealing qualitative trait information from human DNA.
¿ GeneFormatics Inc., of San Diego, said that Celera Genomics Group, of Rockville, Md., will deliver a structural proteomics database developed by GeneFormatics through the Celera Discovery System. GeneFormatics¿ database now includes more than 7,000 novel biochemical function and structure assignments for thousands of potential drug targets in the human proteome. The database will be incorporated into and made available through Celera. As additional structure-function assignments are discovered through the application of computational technology to protein sequences by GeneFormatics, they will be added to the database and made accessible through Celera. Financial terms were not disclosed.
¿ Human Genome Sciences Inc., of Rockville, Md., completed enrollment in a Phase IIa trial evaluating repifermin as a systemically administered treatment for ulcerative colitis. The multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-escalation trial is being conducted in more than 80 patients who suffer from mild to moderate ulcerative colitis. Repifermin is a human protein that stimulates proliferation, differentiation and migration of epithelial cells.
¿ Kosan Biosciences Inc., of Hayward, Calif., initiated a Phase I trial of Epothilone D in cancer patients with advanced solid tumors. Epothilone D is a polyketide that inhibits tumor cells by the same mechanism as paclitaxel (Taxol), but is effective against paclitaxel-resistant cells and animal tumors. The study will be conducted at UCLA¿s Jonsson Cancer Center.
¿ MediChem Life Sciences Inc., of Chicago, said that Emerald BioStructures, its structural proteomics division, was awarded a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Cancer Institute to conduct structure-based drug design of anticancer compounds targeting human DNA topoisomerase I. The $750,000 award supports the first year of a two-year program. Topoisomerase I is an essential nuclear enzyme that relaxes tension in DNA by transiently breaking one strand of the double helix. Many cancer cells are particularly sensitive to the toxic effects of topoisomerase I inhibitors which trigger the cancer cells to undergo programmed cell death.
¿ Microbotix Inc., of Worcester, Mass., and Phytobiotech Inc., of Laval, Quebec, formed a research and screening collaboration to identify and develop antibiotic agents that inhibit bacterial DNA replication. These new antibiotics will be used to address the increasing worldwide problem of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. Phytobiotech will supply purified, plant-derived small molecules from its PurePhytoLib library to Microbiotix, which will screen the phytochemicals in order to identify compounds that inhibit the DNA polymerases of both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial pathogens.
¿ Rigel Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, elected James Gower chairman of the board. He will continue as CEO. Previously, Gower was president and CEO of Tularik Inc., also of South San Francisco.
¿ PrimeCyte Inc., of Seattle, said it received orphan drug designation from the FDA for its lead compound, PC4071, in the treatment of soft tissue sarcomas. PC4071 was identified by PrimeCyte¿s differential bioassay screening system, Cytection. The compound has a history of use in a noncancer field. The company said PC4071 appears to have a new mechanism of selectively attacking soft tissue sarcomas and ovarian tumors.
¿ Protein Design Labs Inc., of Fremont, Calif., said the National Cancer Institute initiated a Phase I trial to evaluate PDL¿s humanized antibody Remitogen (SMART 1D10, apolizumab), administered in combination with the chimeric antibody Rituxan (rituximab), belonging to IDEC Pharmaceutical Corp., of San Diego, in cancer patients with relapsed non-Hodgkin¿s lymphoma or chronic lymphocytic leukemia. This study is being sponsored by the NCI under an agreement with PDL. The open-label study will be conducted in two stages at the National Institutes of Health¿s Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md. The first stage will examine escalating doses of Remitogen in combination with standard-dose Rituxan in up to 24 patients. Once the tolerated dose is identified, two cohorts of 12 patients each with either non-Hodgkin¿s lymphoma or chronic lymphocytic leukemia will be enrolled in the second stage.
¿ Scion Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Medford, Mass., appointed Pravin Chaturvedi president and CEO. Prior to joining Scion, Chaturvedi was responsible for lead evaluation at Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass. Scion is a drug discovery company whose mission is discovering novel small-molecule drugs that are selective and specific for ion channels to treat cardiovascular and central nervous system disorders.
¿ Tibotec-Virco NV, of Mechelen, Belgium, presented data on TMC125, a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, at the 8th European Conference on Clinical Aspects and Treatment of HIV Infection in Athens, Greece. TMC125 demonstrated an average reduction in the amount of HIV in patients¿ plasma of 99 percent after one week. Study C208 was a Phase IIa, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 18 previously untreated HIV-positive individuals. The trial was conducted in Russia.
¿ Xenogen Corp., of Alameda, Calif., completed a licensing and asset acquisition from Incyte Genomics Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif. This cash-based acquisition includes a lab and animal facility based in St. Louis, accompanying significant leasehold and other fixed assets, and a nonexclusive license to a package of intellectual property that the company said will benefit Xenogen¿s overall commercial endeavors. In addition, a number of scientists and technicians have agreed to join Xenogen¿s newly begun operations in St. Louis.