¿ Antisoma plc, of London, received orphan drug status for its ovarian cancer treatment, pemtumomab (formerly known as Theragyn). European orphan drug legislation became law in April of last year. Pemtumomab was granted orphan drug status in the U.S. in April 1999.
¿ Celgene Corp., of Warren, N.J., initiated two clinical studies to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Thalomid in combination with Nutley, N.J.-based Roche Laboratory Inc.¿s Xeloda, the first oral chemotherapy for the treatment of colorectal cancer, in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer and possibly other malignancies as well. Celgene also will support a pilot trial at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston to evaluate the safety and efficacy of interferon-alpha with Xeloda and Thalomid in 20 patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. If signs of clinical benefit are seen in two or more patients, a formal Phase II study will be recommended.
¿ Forward Ventures, of San Diego, Calif., closed its Forward Ventures IV, a $256 million venture fund focused on life sciences and health care. The company said the investments would focus on powerful new technologies such as cancer vaccine immunotherapeutics, degenerative disease therapeutics and diagnostics. Additionally, Ivor Royston joined Forward Ventures¿ management team following his retirement as the founding president of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in San Diego.
¿ Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., completed a two-for-one stock split by issuing one new share of Genzyme General division common stock for each share of stock held by Genzyme General shareholders of record as of May 24, 2001. Securities convertible into Genzyme General stock will adjust to reflect the split. The split will increase the number of outstanding shares to about 194 million. The trading price of Genzyme General stock will reflect the increased share amount beginning today.
¿ InforMax Inc., of Bethesda, Md., released GenoMax 3.1. The new release contains significant enhancements to the GenoMax system, as well as the addition of two new modules, the company said. The first new module is the GenoMax Protein-Protein Interaction Analysis module, a proteomic application developed in conjunction with AxCell Biosciences Corp., of Princeton, N.J. The second module is called GenoMax Genome Analysis, which is designed to help organize, classify and analyze DNA data. Additional enhancements include expanded automation of research protocols and refinement of GenoMax¿s graphical user interface, allowing more intuitive tool access and system navigation.
¿ Ixion Biotechnology Inc., of Alachua, Fla., received a $500,000 Phase II Small Business Technology Research grant from the National Institutes of Health for its project titled, ¿Enteric Elimination and Degradation of Oxalic Acid.¿ The grant continues support from a Phase I grant to develop an oral therapy for the control of hyperoxaluria using the beneficial bacteria Oxalobacter formigenes, or its enzymes. Ixion has received seven research grants from the NIH in the last two years, totaling $1.25 million.
¿ Medicure Inc., of Winnipeg, Manitoba, closed its private placement of 2.6 million units at C$1 for total proceeds of C$2.6 million (US$1.7 million). Each unit consists of one common share and one-half of one common share purchase warrant. Each whole common share purchase warrant entitles the holder to acquire one common share for C$1.15 at any time prior to Aug. 31, 2002. The placement was led by Crocus Investment Fund and participated in by the Manitoba Science and Technology Fund and Renaissance Capital Manitoba Ventures Fund Ltd. Partnership, all of Manitoba. The proceeds will be used to complete the currently planned Phase II trials of MC-1, being developed for reduction of injury due to heart attacks.
¿ Pharmacopeia Inc., of Princeton, N.J., said its integrated software subsidiaries ¿ Molecular Simulations Inc., Synopsys Scientific Systems, Oxford Molecular and the Genetics Computer Group ¿ will operate as Accelrys Inc. Accelrys will offer software solutions for bioinformatics, cheminformatics and modeling for the life and materials sciences.
¿ Senomyx Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., said its scientists identified a set of 347 human olfactory receptor genes, and said it is likely the complete set of functional receptors are related to smell. The work will be published in the June 2001 issue of Genome Biology.
¿ Synsorb Biotech Inc., of Calgary, Alberta, entered into an equity line agreement with Roseworth Group LLC, of the British Virgin Islands, under which Synsorb may sell up to 1 million shares of Oncolytics Biotech Inc., also of Calgary, to Roseworth over a 12-month period. Roseworth invests in publicly traded equities for its own account. Synsorb is a pharmaceutical company that develops carbohydrate-based therapies. Oncolytics is a biotechnology company that develops the mammalian retrovirus called Reolysin, a potential cancer therapeutic.
¿ ViaLactia Biosciences Ltd., of Auckland, New Zealand, and Orion Genomics LLC, of St. Louis, entered into a multistage genomics alliance to develop improved varieties of forage plant species for the pastoral agricultural industries, and to develop hardier and higher-yielding crops. Financial terms were not disclosed. Under the terms of the agreement, Orion will use its GeneThresher technology to sequence and identify the complete gene set of a key forage grass species. The two companies will then develop specialized genome research tools, including DNA microchips, genetic markers and sequence databases.
Viral Genetics Inc., a development-stage California company, entered a definitive share-exchange agreement with 5 Starliving Online Inc., of Seattle. 5 Starliving said it will acquire 51 percent of Viral Genetics in exchange for about 18.7 million shares. Based on 5 Starliving¿s Thursday closing price of $3.30, the deal is worth about $61.9 million. 5 Starliving has an option to acquire the remaining portion of Viral Genetics for additional shares. 5 Starliving, founded in 1998, is an e-commerce business model designed to service the needs of the international affluent consumer. Officials from neither company could be reached for comment or details.
Wilex AG, of Munich, Germany, received orphan drug status from the FDA for its unconjugated chimeric G250 IgG monoclonal antibody, as a therapy for renal cell carcinoma. G250 completed a Phase I dose-escalation study conducted in collaboration with the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in New York. The therapy currently is undergoing a Phase II trial.