¿ Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said it extended its proprietary chemical-genomics platform to include the nuclear hormone receptor gene family, allowing for functional characterization of orphan nuclear receptors and discovery of surrogate ligands to those orphans. Acadia presented the news at the Orphan Nuclear Receptors Biology and Ligand conference in Sunnyvale, Calif.
¿ Axxima Pharmaceuticals AG, of Martinsried, Germany, received a EUR1.4 million (US$1.2 million) grant from the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. The two-year grant will fund development of target validation strategies for Axxima¿s identified drug targets against infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C.
¿ Biosyn Inc., of Philadelphia, signed a worldwide exclusive licensing agreement with Crompton Corp., of Greenwich, Conn., to develop Crompton¿s compound UC781 as a topical microbicide targeted against the AIDS virus. Biosyn will fund all development costs and give Crompton milestone and royalty payments, including exercisability of warrants if Phase III trials are initiated for HIV claims on a UC781 product. Crompton retains technology rights to all other indications. Crompton also received a grant-back of rights to use data in Biosyn¿s new drug application, if approved, for certain other applications.
¿ Celgene Corp., of Warren, N.J., presented data at the 97th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society, held in San Francisco, showing its c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibitor, SP600125, has anti-inflammatory properties that may help treat asthma. Also, the company presented data on the role of mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways, including JNK, in inflammation and asthma showing JNK is a regulator of cytokines, including interleukin-2 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha.
¿ Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., licensed its HIV-1 and hepatitis C virus intellectual property for nucleic acid testing to screen blood, plasma and blood products intended for transfusion to F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland. The agreement replaces an interim arrangement entered in October 2000. The agreement gives Roche a license to manufacture and sell probe-based HIV-1 and HCV blood screening tests worldwide, and renegotiated royalty rates for Chiron based on the number of donations tested rather than on test kits sold. HIV-1 test sales in Africa and most of Asia, the companies agreed, will be royalty-free, and HCV tests in those areas will bear a royalty discount.
¿ ConjuChem Inc., of Montreal, selected a lead compound from its DAC:GLP-1 program. ConjuChem added that it will begin preclinical studies on the compound, CJC-1131. The program aims to find a treatment for Type II diabetes. DAC:GLP-1 is a peptide analogue derived from glucagon-like peptide, or GLP-1, a naturally occurring insulin-stimulating peptide hormone.
¿ COR Therapeutics Inc., of South San Francisco, presented results at the annual Paris Course on Revascularization that demonstrated that patients who receive Integrilin during coronary stent procedures experienced a statistically significant reduction in the combined instance of death or heart attack after a year compared to patients who received placebo. The one-year analysis from the ESPRIT (Enhanced Suppression of Platelet Receptor GP IIb-IIIa using Integrilin Therapy) study showed that combined incidence of death or heart attack was reduced from 12.4 percent with placebo to 8 percent with Integrilin (p=0.001), a GP IIb-IIIa receptor blocker that targets platelets responsible for thrombus development.
¿ Crucell NV, of Leiden, the Netherlands, said it developed and tested a new, larger-phage antibody-display library of human antibody fragments for target discovery and antibody-based therapeutics development. The library is a part of Crucell¿s MAbstract technology for target discovery and antibody generation, and now contains about 50 billion antibody fragments.
¿ Genaera Corp., of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., presented four preclinical studies on its mucoregulator program at the American Thoracic Society meeting. The studies highlighted the mechanism of a calcium-activated chloride channel gene in regulating mucus overproduction and the potential of Genaera¿s mucoregulator small-molecule drugs for treating respiratory diseases characterized by mucus overproduction. Genaera said clinical studies of its mucoregulator drug candidate will begin in the second half of this year.
¿ Genome Therapeutics Corp., of Waltham, Mass., saw its shares (NASDAQ:GENE) rise 42 percent, or $4, to close at $13.50 on the strength of a glowing ¿strong buy¿ rating from Landenburg Thalmann analyst Albert Rauch. Rauch predicted the company¿s shares will rise to $84 within the next year, and cited the company¿s use of pathogen genomes to find anti-infectives.
¿ Hybridon Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., sold the remainder of its stake in MethylGene Inc., of Montreal. Hybridon spun off MethylGene in 1996, but held a 22 percent interest in the company. Hybridon¿s sale grossed it proceeds of $2.8 million, bringing its total proceeds from the sale of its stake in MethylGene to $7.1 million. MethylGene focuses on the development of antisense drugs to combat cancer by inhibiting the regulatory protein DNA methyltransferase.
¿ Immtech International Inc., of Vernon Hills, Ill., completed a multidose Phase I trial of its lead compound, DB289. The drug candidate proved safe at all dose levels. The drug is slated for a Phase II trial in Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and Trypanosomiasis (African sleeping sickness) in the second half of this year. The sleeping sickness trial is supported by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
¿ Inhibitex Inc., of Alpharetta, Ga., presented preclinical data on its antibody-based products in the treatment of Staphylococcus aureus infections at the American Society for Microbiology meeting in Orlando, Fla. SA-IGIV, its purified immunoglobulin derived from pooled human plasma selected for elevated levels of antibodies specific to S. aureus, was shown to reduce the level of bloodstream infections in a rabbit model of methicillin-resistant S. aureus infectious endocarditis. It also presented preclinical data for its monoclonal antibodies against S. aureus.
¿ Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and Cambridge Drug Discovery Ltd., of London, entered a two-year collaboration to accelerate Millennium¿s preclinical research. Millennium gets access to Cambridge Drug Discovery¿s molecular pharmacology expertise, assay development technologies and fully automated high-throughput screening capabilities. Financial terms were undisclosed.
¿ Peregrine Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tustin, Calif., said it extended its agreement with Cancer Therapeutics Inc., of Los Angeles, to allow Brilliance Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Shanghai, China, to continue to exclusively advance the commercialization of radiolabeled tumor necrosis therapy in China. The companies entered the original arrangement in 1995. Brilliance recently completed its definitive Phase III trial of the therapy, and is in the process of submitting an application for regulatory approval to the Chinese Drug Administration in Beijing.
¿ ProdiGene Inc., of College Station, Texas, entered into a research agreement with Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, to evaluate the feasibility of using ProdiGene¿s maize transgenic production system to develop and produce an enzyme that could be used as an intermediate in manufacturing processes. Financial details were unavailable.
¿ SciClone Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., said a study published in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis supports Zadaxin¿s contribution to alpha interferon combination therapy for treatment of chronic hepatitis C. The study demonstrated that Zadaxin, a synthetic thymosin alpha-1 peptide, increased the production of cytokines that fight viral infection.
¿ Zygogen LLC, of Atlanta, and Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., entered a collaboration to develop a joint technology platform based on Ariad¿s gene regulation technology and Zygogen¿s transgenic zebrafish models. The collaboration will combine Ariad¿s Argents system for small-molecule regulation of cellular processes with Zygogen¿s Z-Tag fluorescent-tagging technology to create disease models for use in functional genomics research. Financial terms were undisclosed.