¿ Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cheshire, Conn., acquired exclusive worldwide commercial rights to technology that allows the rapid discovery of antibody drug candidates. Protected by U.S. Patent No. 5,766,905 and called ¿Cytoplasmic Bacteriophage Display System,¿ the technology involves a novel application of the T7Select Phage Display System from Novagen Inc., of Houston. The technology is an in vitro antibody discovery tool based on the display of combinatorial antibody libraries on the surface of the bacteriophage T7. Alexion¿s license covers human therapeutic antibodies. Financial terms were not disclosed.
¿ AltaRex Corp., of Waltham, Mass., reported favorable early results from a concurrent OvaRex/second-line chemotherapy clinical trial in relapsed ovarian cancer in which salvage chemotherapy alone provides limited benefit. A primary objective of the 20-patient Phase II open-label trial is to induce a robust tumor-specific immune response, including chemotherapy-insensitive memory T and B cells, in the 12 weeks prior to beginning second-line chemotherapy.
¿ Amplistar Inc., of Winston-Salem, N.C., said it contracted First Union Securities to serve as its financial adviser in raising $15 million in equity financing for its Series B round of financing. The financing, when complete, will be used to accelerate the development of a cancer-screening technology for improved early detection of ovarian and other cancers. Amplistar is using technology to focus on the discovery and validation of unique antibodies specific to certain tumors, especially ovarian carcinoma.
¿ Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., released results of recent studies on its new small-molecule drug candidates to treat bone metastases and solid tumors. AP23451, a small-molecule inhibitor of bone breakdown designed to treat cancer that has spread to bone, is scheduled to enter clinical trials during the second half of next year. Using a drug that blocks bone resorption, like AP23451, might make it harder for cancer cells to proliferate. The company also disclosed another candidate, AP21626, and its analogues to treat solid tumors. Compounds of the AP21626 class block cell cycle and growth of tumors by down-regulating a key signaling pathway that is accentuated in cancer cells deficient in a tumor suppressor gene known as PTEN.
¿ Exelixis Inc., of South San Francisco, and the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology in Strasbourg, France, identified and characterized a gene involved in mediating the innate immune response. The discovery could aid in human inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease. Exelixis has all commercial rights to use of the targets. The discovery was reported in the Oct. 11, 2001, issue of Developmental Cell.
¿ GeneMachines Inc., of San Carlos, Calif., said the RevPrep Orbit workstation achieved successful results in beta tests of its nucleic acid purification capabilities. The workstation automates genomic sample preparation.
¿ Genzyme General, a division of Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., said it concluded its treat-to-goal trial comparing Renagel with calcium-based phosphate binders. At the recommendation of its investigators and its Renagel medical advisory bard, Genzyme elected not to pursue a two-year extension protocol because it believes the trial met its objectives at one year. Genzyme submitted the results for publication in a peer-reviewed journal and said it plans to ask the FDA for permission to add the results to the Renagel product label.
¿ Introgen Therapeutics Inc., of Austin, Texas, licensed a group of newly discovered sequenced genes that apparently play roles in suppressing and preventing development of lung and other cancers. The family of genes, which contains at least 10 members, was discovered as part of a collaboration between the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute. The technologies have been added to Introgen¿s broad exclusive license agreement with the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
¿ Matrix Pharmaceutical Inc., of Fremont, Calif., said it is moving forward with a new study of tezacitabine in acute myeloid leukemia. The Phase II multicenter study is designed to assess tezacitabine as a monotherapy for AML patients who have failed their first treatment or are experiencing their first relapse. Enrollment is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2002.
¿ Merix Bioscience Inc., of Durham, N.C., established a wholly owned subsidiary, Merix Germany GmbH, in Erlangen, Germany. Over the next two years, the company said it plans to invest more than $4 million in research and development, including the construction of a GMP manufacturing facility. It will be used for dendritic cell research conducted in Erlangen, ongoing research and future preclinical and clinical trials focusing on Merix¿s RNA platform to treat cancer and other diseases.
¿ MGI Pharma Inc., of Minneapolis, expanded the ongoing Phase II trial of irofulven, its anticancer compound, for patients with refractory or recurrent advanced epithelial ovarian cancer. Measurable antitumor activity was demonstrated in early patient enrollment, and the trial will be expanded to treat a larger number of ovarian cancer patients. Completed enrollment for the trial is expected to occur in 2002.
¿ Oncolytics Biotech Inc., of Calgary, Alberta, was approved by Health Canada to initiate a clinical study to evaluate the efficacy of Reolysin for the treatment of T2 prostate cancer. The trial will evaluate the efficacy of intra-tumoral administration of Reolysin for the treatment of cancer that is restricted to the prostate gland. Patients will receive a single injection of Reolysin and will be monitored for approximately three weeks, at which time the prostate may be surgically removed. The primary efficacy endpoint will be the response rate as measured by PSA levels, MRI and pathological examination of the tumor. The trial is expected to enroll 45 patients at three sites in Canada.
¿ Phylos Inc., of Lexington, Mass., said it partnered with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to develop high-throughput methods for protein production to create research reagents and microarrays that may be used to design new drugs or diagnostic tools. They will work together to develop automated methods for the expression and production of cellular proteins. The laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy¿s National Nuclear Security Administration. Financial terms were not disclosed.
¿ PowderJect Pharmaceuticals plc, of Oxford, UK, and its wholly owned subsidiary, PowderJect Vaccines Inc., said in association with the University of Pittsburgh the company was awarded $1 million to support the development of a powdered DNA vaccine against HIV. The one-year funding was awarded by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
¿ Sicor Inc., of Irvine, Calif., sold 20 million shares of common stock at $18.50 per share, raising $370 million in a public offering. Ten million shares were offered by the company and 10 million by Rakepoll Finance; Sicor will not receive any proceeds from the shares sold by Rakepoll. The company said it would use the proceeds for general corporate purposes. Underwriters have an option to purchase 3 million shares to cover overallotments. Merrill Lynch & Co., of New York, is managing underwriter, and co-managers are CIBC World Markets Corp., of New York, and SG Cowen Securities Corp., of New York.
¿ Switch Biotech AG, of Martinsried, Germany, completed its third round of financing, raising about EUR18 million (US$16.5 million). Switch identifies genes involved in wound-healing processes and skin afflictions. It also develops medications to aid in wound healing and to treat skin disorders. The company has a cooperation agreement with Leo Pharmaceutical Products Ltd., of Ballerup, Denmark.
¿ Tanox Inc., of Houston, said the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California found that Tanox has a right to independently develop certain anti-IgE antibodies. The court also ruled that Tanox may use information acquired under its tripartite agreement with Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, and Novartis Pharma AG, of Basel, Switzerland. The rulings were part of the court¿s summary judgement entered in connection with a lawsuit filed in 1999 that challenged Tanox¿s right to independently develop TNX-901. Tanox¿s stock (NASDAQ:TNOX) gained $2.82, or 16.6 percent, Thursday to close at $19.80.
¿ Triangle Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Durham, N.C., said its stockholders approved the sale of 18,673,885 shares of common stock at $2.65 per share to a group of investors led by Warburg Pincus Private Equity VIII LP. Gross proceeds from the sale totaled $49.5 million. Banc of America Securities LLC served as placement agent for the transaction. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 27, 2001.)
¿ ViaLogy Corp., of Pasadena, Calif., appointed Douglas Lane CEO and a director. Lane is a former vice president of corporate development for Hyseq Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., and has extensive experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. ViaLogy uses its Quantum Resonance Interferometry to increase the detection sensitivity of DNA microarrays and other biochip platforms.
¿ Vical Inc., of San Diego, agreed to develop products based on its naked DNA technology for Ichor Medical Systems Inc., also of San Diego. Ichor will deliver the products using its electroporation systems. Ichor¿s TriGrid electroporation technology is a means of increasing cellular uptake of therapeutic agents. Financial details were not disclosed.
¿ Viragen Inc., of Plantation, Fla., said on Oct. 1 its subsidiary, Viragen Ltd., acquired BioNative AB, of Umee, Sweden. It said Thursday the Swedish company will be called ViraNative.