¿ Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, reported the discovery of an approach to treat chronic pain by using small molecules that selectively activate a specific subtype of the muscarinic receptor. Acadia¿s target-specific muscarinic lead compounds showed a promising preclinical profile, lacking the side effects associated with nonselective muscarinic ligands as well as those associated with pain medications. Using its chemical-genomics platform, Acadia said it discovered compounds with unprecedented specificity in activation of a wide range of G protein-coupled receptors. One GCPR, discovered as part of a collaboration with Allergan Inc., of Irvine, Calif., has led to the nomination of a drug candidate as an oral treatment for clinical pain.
¿ Avant Immunotherapeutics Inc., of Needham, Mass., signed a license agreement under which DynPort Vaccine Co. LLC ¿ a joint venture of DynCorp and Porton International Inc. ¿ gains exclusive rights to use certain components of Avant¿s vaccine technology. DynPort is charged with advancing development of vaccines and other products for the government to protect against biological warfare agents. Avant is entitled to undisclosed license fees, milestones and royalties. Avant¿s stock (NASDAQ:AVAN) gained $1.69 Wednesday, or 57 percent, to close at $4.64.
¿ AxCell Biosciences, a subsidiary of Cytogen Corp., of Princeton, N.J., said it is preparing to enter a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the National Cancer Institute to research major signal transduction families and how they impact signaling pathways, which could lead to drugs to treat cancer and other diseases. Relevant data resulting from the CRADA will be added to AxCell¿s ProChart database of protein interaction information.
¿ Biokeys Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, filed form 10-SB with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing is accompanied by the company¿s audited financial statements for years ended Dec. 31, 1999, and 2000, part of a process by which Biokeys will eventually apply for listing on the American Stock Exchange. Its lead compound, CoFactor, is a chemotherapy biomodulator to be used with the cancer drug 5-FU. The product is nearing Phase II/III trials in the U.S. and Europe.
¿ Cambridge Antibody Technology plc, of Melbourn, UK, entered into a five-year collaboration and license agreement with Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., for development of products for a target involved in HIV. Merck will provide HIV biology work and CAT will provide its human phage antibody libraries. Merck gains exclusive rights to resulting products. CAT will receive an up-front technology access fee, milestones and potential royalties on the sale of products based either on human antibodies or non-antibody products validated by CAT.
¿ ConjuChem Inc., of Montreal, entered a research collaboration with Heska Corp., of Fort Collins, Colo., to develop a DAC compound ¿ with improved characteristics over an existing drug ¿ for an undisclosed veterinary application. Heska will conduct compound testing and optimization studies for a 12-month period. At the end of the period, Heska will have the option to negotiate a license and development agreement. ConjuChem received an undisclosed up-front payment.
¿ Dusa Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Wilmington, Mass., initiated its second Phase I/II trial for the treatment of Barrett¿s esophagus using Levulan photodynamic therapy. Both studies, designed to examine the safety and efficacy of Levulan in early and late-stage Barrett¿s esophagus, are at a single U.S. site. Barrett¿s esophagus is an acquired condition in which the normal esophageal lining is replaced by an abnormal lining that eventually can increase the risk of esophageal cancer. The trials are designed to examine various doses of light to determine the optimal dose.
¿ First Genetic Trust Inc., of Chicago, entered into a research collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London, to study genetic variations that influence why some patients experience certain adverse reactions when taking medications while others do not. GlaxoSmithKline will conduct all analyses, while First Genetic Trust will provide secure genetic banking services, where biological samples and medical data can be stored.
¿ Flamel Technologies SA, of Lyon, France, signed a licensing agreement with Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., for the application of Flamel¿s Micropump technology to an undisclosed class of pharmaceutical compounds. Financial terms were not disclosed. Micropump uses microparticles that permit the delivery of small-molecule drugs over an extended period of time in the small intestine, including drugs with a very narrow window of absorption. Flamel¿s stock (NASDAQ:FLML) gained 42 cents Wednesday, or 42 percent, to close at $1.42.
¿ Genetastix Corp. of San Jose, Calif., and the Development Center for Biotechnology in Taipei, Taiwan, entered a collaboration that will allow DCB access to Genetastix¿s HuMYTech platform to generate fully human monoclonal antibodies against entrovirus type 71. The most virulent species of all entrovirus subtypes, entrovirus type 71 caused several outbreaks in Taiwan, primarily infecting children between 7 months and 2 years of age. Genetastix will receive research and development payments, milestone payments and royalties on commercial sales of resulting products.
¿ IDEC Pharmaceuticals Corp., of San Diego, purchased more than 42 acres in San Diego for a new corporate headquarters and research and development campus. Financial terms of the purchase were not disclosed. The first phase of construction, which could eventually grow to over 750,000 square feet of facilities, is expected to be complete in the fall of 2003.
¿ Incyte Genomics Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., entered an alliance with Epoch Biosciences Inc., of Bothell, Wash., designed to leverage the intellectual property assets of both companies. The agreement features three elements: giving Epoch access to LifeSeq Gold and ZooSeq to allow development of oligonucleotide probes based on Incyte¿s gene content; establishment of Epoch as a preferred provider of oligonucleotide probes; and a supply of Epoch Eclipse Probe Systems for Incyte internal development purposes. Financial terms were not disclosed.
¿ Inhale Therapeutic Systems Inc., of San Carlos, Calif., entered a collaboration with the R.W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute and the Janssen Research Foundation, subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J. Inhale, using Inhance pulmonary delivery technology, will develop formulations of inhaleable small-molecule compounds up to proof of concept. R.W. Johnson and Janssen will evaluate and develop tested formulas. Inhale will receive research and development funding, milestone payments and royalty payments if products are commercialized.
¿ Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., said data from a Phase II trial of the antisense drug ISIS 2302 demonstrated improved symptoms in patients with active distal ulcerative colitis. Patients receiving an enema formulation of the drug had a statistically significant dose-dependent reduction in disease and clinical activity index scores. The study of the intercellular adhesion molecule-1 involved 40 people at 11 sites in Europe. Isis said it will continue to refine the dosing schedule and evaluate the product¿s market potential.
¿ Lexicon Genetics Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas, said it granted a nonexclusive internal research use license to Pfizer Inc., of New York, under a patent covering the use of Lexicon¿s isogenic DNA technology in gene targeting. Pfizer already holds a nonexclusive license from Lexicon for use of Lexicon¿s positive-negative selection technology. Financial details were not disclosed.
¿ Nanogen Inc., of San Diego, was awarded a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Army to continue development of miniaturized electronic devices for detecting biological warfare and infectious disease agents from human blood samples. Nanogen¿s stock (NASDAQ:NGEN) gained $2.75 Wednesday, or 49 percent, to close at $8.33.
¿ Orchid BioSciences Inc., of Princeton, N.J., and Ellipsis Biotherapeutics Corp., of Toronto, entered into a broad SNP and pharmacogenomics collaboration. Orchid will work with Ellipsis to conduct high-throughput SNP genotyping and to construct high-density chromosome maps using clinical samples provided by Ellipsis. It initially will focus on SNP analyses related to genetic underpinnings in inflammatory bowel disease. Ellipsis granted Orchid rights to certain intellectual property for diagnostic applications. Orchid¿s stock (NASDAQ:ORCH) fell 60 cents Wednesday, or 17 percent, to close at $2.95.
¿ Pangene Corp., of Fremont, Calif., said it received a five-year grant to measure DNA strand break damage by radiation and chemical exposure. The grant funds research on the repair of DNA by nucleotide excision repair. Pangene has discovered and developed DNA repair inhibitor drugs that overcome resistance to DNA-damaging oncology drugs or radiation.
¿ Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tustin, Calif., said the FDA granted fast-track status to Cotara for the treatment of recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. Peregrine plans to open a Phase III study of Cotara by the end of the year. Cotara is a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody that binds to the necrotic core of tumors and uses beta radiation to kill the tumors from the inside out.
¿ Proteome Systems, of Sydney, Australia, and Shimadzu Biotech, the business unit of Shimadzu Corp., of Kyoto, Japan, completed the first stage of their joint chemical printer project. It will now be fast-tracked to commercialization. Chemical printing is a technology for protein identification and characterization based on microfluidic printing onto proteins. Once production is complete, the chemical printer will be integrated into Proteome¿s ProteomIQ platform. The instrument also will be sold as a Shimadzu stand-alone product and in combination with the company¿s range of mass spectrometers.
¿ Scios Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., debuted a nationwide registry to collect and analyze demographic and treatment data of patients hospitalized by acutely decompensated heart failure. Called Adhere, the registry is expected to compile its database from approximately 200 hospitals over the next several years. Scios created Adhere to help determine factors associated with acutely decompensated heart failure.
¿ SignalGene Inc., of Montreal, said its scientists achieved the first milestone on schedule under the technology co-development program with ArQule Inc., of Woburn, Mass. The milestone comprises the development of the prototype for a computer-assisted drug design software platform that integrates features of SignalGene¿s de novo molecular design technology with ArQule¿s combinatorial array design platform. The integrated technology platform is designed to permit highly accelerated lead optimization.
¿ SkyePharma PLC, of London, and Sanofi-Synthelabo, of Paris, received an approvable letter from the FDA for UroXatral for the symptomatic treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. The formulation uses SkyePharma¿s oral drug delivery technology, Geomatrix. UroXatral¿s new drug application was submitted in December 2000.
¿ Synt:em, of Nimes, France, and Boston Life Sciences Inc., of Boston, entered a research collaboration that will use Synt:em¿s peptide vector technology, Pep:trans, to improve delivery of a novel central nervous system diagnostic into the brain. Pep:trans enables small and large molecules to cross the blood-brain barrier and get into cells. Boston Life Sciences and Synt:em will fund certain percentages of costs, and will derive a defined split of potential revenue and royalties from marketed products. Also, Synt:em will be paid during the early research phase for access to Pep:trans.
¿ V.I. Technologies Inc., of Watertown, Mass., reported that its Inactine system showed high efficiency in removing prion proteins from red blood cell concentrates. Inactine employs an automated cell-washing step as part of its red cell purification process, and during this step, up to a 4-log removal of prion proteins was achieved during preclinical studies.
¿ Xenova Group plc, of Slough, UK, said its Phase II trial of TA-HSV, a therapeutic vaccine for genital herpes, failed to meet its clinical endpoints. The product is partnered with GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London. The multicenter, placebo-controlled trial involved 483 patients with herpes simplex virus-2. No difference was seen between the treatment and control arms as it related to time to first recurrence, the number of recurrences or other outcomes. The agreement between the companies will be terminated in January. Xenova will continue to develop DISC-PRO, a prophylactic vaccine against herpes. Xenova¿s stock (NASDAQ:XNVA) fell 70 cents Wednesday, or 15.5 percent, to close at $3.80.