¿ Atrix Laboratories Inc., of Fort Collins, Colo., signed an agreement with Human Genome Sciences Inc., of Rockville, Md., to develop a sustained-released formulation of an HGS protein with Atrix¿s Atrigel Depot drug delivery system. HGS will provide funding and the work will be performed at Atrix¿s facility. Financial details were not disclosed.
¿ Cereon Genomics LLC, of Cambridge, Mass., a Monsanto Co. subsidiary, and a research team at the University of Richmond in Virginia, released the genome sequence for Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a bacterium that can naturally transfer DNA to plant cells. The availability of this genome sequence can help to improve the process of producing new crop varieties through biotechnology, the company said.
¿ Cytoclonal Pharmaceutics Inc., of Dallas, said it received payments totaling more than $600,000 from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York, for its work on Taxol-related projects. It received the first part of the payment several weeks ago, and the second part ¿ about $500,000 ¿ last week. Cytoclonal focuses on the development of therapeutic products for the treatment and prevention of cancer and infectious diseases.
¿ Entelos Inc., of Menlo Park, Calif., and Compaq Computer Corp., of Houston, formed a three-year agreement that will provide technology to support new drug development and disease research. Entelos will use Compaq¿s AlphaServer running the Tru64 UNIX and Compaq ProLiant servers running Linux as the computational platforms for its high-throughput PhysioLab systems. Financial terms were not disclosed.
¿ EntreMed Inc., of Rockville, Md., said Endostatin and Panzem received orphan drug status from the FDA. Endostatin, a protein drug candidate, and Panzem, an orally available small-molecule drug candidate, are anti-angiogenesis agents that inhibit the abnormal blood vessel growth associated with cancer and other diseases. EntreMed received orphan drug status for Endostatin in neuroendocrine tumors and for Panzem in multiple myeloma. A focused Phase II study is planned for Endostatin later this year. Panzem currently is in Phase II studies for multiple myeloma.
¿ Genzyme General, a division of Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., received approval to market Renagel in Brazil. The company said it expects to obtain reimbursement authorization for Renagel and launch the product by year¿s end, with a 10- to 20-person dedicated sales and marketing organization. Renagel is a phosphate binder for patients with end-stage renal disease on dialysis. The FDA approved Renagel in the U.S. in 1998. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 3, 1998.)
¿ Immunex Corp., of Seattle, said it plans to begin construction of a new manufacturing plant in West Greenwich, R.I. The new facility will comprise the largest cell culture manufacturing center in the world, the company said.
¿ Incyte Genomics Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., will introduce its LifeSeq Foundation at the Drug Discovery Technology 2001 Conference in Boston. According the company, LifeSeq Foundation contains the most comprehensive and accurate database of potential drug and therapeutic targets, annotated by the company¿s functional information and research tools. The system also will include RNA expression data, genetic data in the form of single nucleotide polymorphisms and comparative sequence information that will yield homologues with rats and mice.
¿ Lexicon Genetics Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas, granted GlaxoSmithKline plc, of London, a multi-year, nonexclusive sublicense to use its patented gene-targeting programs for GSK¿s internal research programs. Lexicon will receive a one-time, up-front technology and license fee from GSK. Financial terms were not disclosed.
¿ Lorus Therapeutics Inc., of Toronto, said preclinical results indicate that its immunotherapeutic drug, Virulizin, is a potential therapy for a variety of different cancers, including lung, ovarian and prostate. The company will present results from ongoing in vivo efficacy studies during the Drug Discovery Technology 2001 conference currently being held in Boston. The company said Virulizin recruits killer cells, monocytes and macrophages to attack tumor cells. Lorus recently announced plans to expand the Phase III trial program of Virulizin to integrate first-line and second-line treatment of pancreatic cancer patients in a single clinical study.
¿ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, of Washington, said its researchers identified specific alterations that occur in antibody-producing B cells when HIV levels are high ¿ changes that disappear when patients are treated with antiretroviral drugs. The study, published in the current Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition online, is the first to define a unique subset of B cells in people infected with HIV. The researchers believe HIV causes changes to occur in B cells that either partially transition them to plasma cells or stimulate them to undergo changes along a completely different biochemical pathway. HIV-infected individuals¿ B cells produce excessive amounts of nonessential antibodies, fail to respond to normal physiologic signals and are at increased risk of becoming cancerous, researchers said.
¿ Novo Nordisk A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, said it made an undisclosed equity investment in TransTech Pharma Inc., of High Point, N.C. The companies are working to generate clinical candidates from Novo¿s targets. The collaboration was announced last week. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 7, 2001.)
¿ SciTegic Inc., of San Diego, said Psychiatric Genomics Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., adopted SciTegic¿s Pipeline Pilot data pipelining system. Psychiatric Genomics will use the technology to augment its approach to gene-based psychiatric research and drug discovery in the areas of data analysis, chemistry and bioinformatics.
¿ Serono SA, of Geneva, reported the positive conclusion of the mutual recognition procedure for the use of Saizen [somatropin (rDNA origin) for injection] in the treatment of adult growth hormone deficiency. The company plans to launch Saizen for this new indication in several European countries by the end of this year. Introduced in 1989, Saizen is a recombinant growth hormone currently approved in various countries for the treatment of growth retardation due to growth hormone deficiency, Turner Syndrome and chronic renal failure.
¿ Variagenics Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., presented its 3-dimensional visualization system for individual genetic variations at the 2001 Drug Discovery Technology Conference in Boston. The system relates functional information about genes involved in biological pathways targeted by common drugs with information about gene structure and genetic variation in different population groups, the company said. The technology was developed in collaboration with Small Design Firm Inc., also of Cambridge.
¿ Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., installed a new supercomputer cluster designed by Blackstone Computing, of Worcester, Mass. The new system is one of the most powerful computers in the world dedicated to in silico drug design applications, Vertex said. The cluster will perform computations to support Vertex¿s structural biology, combinatorial chemistry, medicinal chemistry, high-throughput screening, bioinformatics and pharmacology groups.
¿ Xtrana Inc., of Broomfield, Colo., was awarded two research grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The awards are a Phase II grant for continued funding on a project to develop a rapid and highly sensitive nucleic acid-based test for Salmonella and a Phase I grant to develop a similar test for Campylobacter. The grants total more than $345,000 in new funding. Over the last three years, the company has been awarded 11 grants and two U.S. government contracts totaling approximately $4.3 million for the development of nucleic acid-based test systems.