¿ Astex Technology Ltd., of Cambridge, UK, and AstraZeneca AB, of London, entered a structural biology research agreement. The alliance will focus on solving novel cytochrome P450 crystal structures. The structures will then be used to optimize AstraZeneca compounds. Financial terms were undisclosed.

¿ Atrix Laboratories Inc., of Fort Collins, Colo., said it received approval in Germany, Denmark and Sweden to market Atridox in the Atrigel delivery system for periodontal disease, under a second wave of the Decentralized Mutual Recognition procedure of the European Union. Atridox combines the Atrigel drug delivery system with the antibiotic doxycycline to reduce the bacteria associated with periodontal disease.

¿ BioMerieux-Pierre Fabre, of Paris, signed a letter with Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, to collaborate on eflucimibe, an ACAT inhibitor discovered by bioMerieux-Pierre that is in Phase I trials. BioMerieux-Pierre will receive a signing fee, milestone payments and royalties on product sales. The companies will jointly promote and market the product except for certain countries where Lilly will receive exclusive sales and marketing rights. The companies will share in the development of the compound and the manufacturing of the finished product.

¿ BioTransplant Inc., of Charlestown, Mass., said its shareholders voted to approve the acquisition of Eligix Inc., of Medford, Mass., in a stock-for-stock merger. The acquisition was announced in December. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 12, 2000.)

¿ Cell Pathways Inc., of Horsham, Pa., and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York, will work together to support a Phase I/II trial studying the combination of Aptosyn and Taxol plus Paraplatin as a first-line treatment for patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer. The study is designed to evaluate escalating doses of Aptosyn in combination with a standard regime of Taxol and Paraplatin. The companies will share the costs and data.

¿ Cell Therapeutics Inc., of Seattle, said researchers reported that arsenic trioxide may make STI-571 more effective in treating chronic myeloid leukemia. Cell Therapeutics markets Trisenox (arsenic trioxide) injection for the treatment for relapsed acute promyelocytic leukemia. In a paper in the journal Leukemia, scientists found combination treatment with arsenic trioxide and STI-571 is more effective at inducing cell death than either agent alone and may also have potential to delay resistance to STI-571.

¿ Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., and Rhein Biotech NV, of Dusseldorf, Germany, formed a collaboration to develop, manufacture and market combination pediatric vaccines for sale through international organizations and in developing countries. Chiron will provide antigens for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and heamophilus influenza type B. Rhine will supply hepatitis B virus vaccine and manufacture the combination vaccines. Chiron has no plans to introduce the vaccines to the U.S. or Europe. In separate news, Chiron filed a second suit against Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, alleging Genentech¿s Herceptin (trastuzumab) infringes on a Chiron¿s U.S. Patent No. 4,753,894. Genentech has filed to dismiss the second Chiron suit, and a hearing is scheduled for May 21. The initial Chiron suit will go to trial on June 25. Genentech also said separately that Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., filed a complaint in April alleging Genentech¿s TNKase (tenecteplase) for heart attack infringed a Genzyme patent.

¿ Inspire Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Durham, N.C., presented positive Phase II results of INS365 Ophthalmic for the treatment of dry eye in scientific sessions at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Also, it launched a Phase I/II trial for its second potential ophthalmology product, INS37217 Ophthalmic, for the treatment of retinal detachment. The trial will evaluate the effectiveness of this agent in removing sub-retinal fluid build-up in patients with retinal detachments resulting from breaks or tears in the retina.

¿ Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., said researchers at the National Cancer Institute and at Isis found that in cells exposed to a stimulus such as ultraviolet radiation, suppression of p38 induced cell division and prevented cells from pausing prior to mitosis to make repairs to their DNA. This understanding of the biological pathway of p38 may be useful in the development of new therapies to inhibit cancer. The study was published in Thursday¿s issue of Nature.

¿ Maxygen Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., said it achieved a milestone in its agreement with Pfizer Inc., of New York, for biochemical manufacturing of a Pfizer product. Maxygen said it will receive an undisclosed milestone payment and said it used its MolecularBreeding directed molecular evolution technologies to improve the selectivity of a key biosynthetic pathway in the production of the product.

¿ NexMed Inc., of Robbinsville, N.J., said its Asian licensee, Vergemont International Ltd., filed a new drug application with the Hong Kong Department of Health for approval to market NexMed¿s cream treatment for erectile dysfunction in Hong Kong. If approved, NexMed will receive royalty payments and payments for manufacturing supplies from Vergemont. In February, the product was approved in China.

¿ Ontogen Corp., of San Diego, began a Phase I study in cancer patients at British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver, British Columbia. The study is designed to evaluate the tolerability and pharmacokinetics of intravenous paclitaxel in combination with oral OC144-093 when given to cancer patients. OC144-093 is being studied for other potential therapeutic applications including enhancement of oral bioavailability and blood brain barrier penetration.

¿ Protein Design Labs Inc., of Fremont, Calif., began preclinical development of its SMART anti-IL-12 antibody. The antibody, which the company said has therapeutic potential as a treatment for autoimmune diseases, is a humanized version of a murine anti-IL-12 antibody licensed from Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., of Nutley, N.J.

¿ Sheffield Pharmaceuticals Inc., of St. Louis, initiated a program for the development of an inhaled version of interferon-gamma, a polypeptide from a class of proteins synthesized by the body that has immune cell activation effects. Sheffield expects to study inhaled interferon-gamma for the treatment of chronic and infectious respiratory diseases.

¿ SLIL Biomedical Corp., of Madison, Wis., filed an investigational new drug application for its first drug candidate, SL11047. The drug is a polyamine analogue, a compound that is thought to act by attaching to DNA and preventing cells from dividing. The trial will be aimed at AIDS-related lymphoma patients and will be conducted as a Phase I/II trial, the company said.

¿ StemCell Technologies Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, signed an exclusive supply agreement with Applied Imaging Corp., of Santa Clara, Calif., for reagents using StemCell¿s nonmagnetic cell separation technology for enriching circulating tumor cells from the blood of cancer patients. StemCell will supply Applied Imaging with RosetteSep tumor enrichment products and technology for clinical use and in the automated detection of tumor cells circulating in peripheral blood. Applied Imaging can market and sell RosetteSep products and incorporate them into their own products. The RosetteSep technique enriches circulating tumor cells directly from samples of cancer patient¿s whole blood. Financial terms were not disclosed.

¿ Texas Biotechnology Corp., of Houston, said its board of directors authorized a stock repurchase program to buy up to 3 million shares, or approximately 7 percent, of its outstanding common stock over an 18-month period.

¿ Theratechnologies Inc., of Saint-Laurent, Quebec, and ALZA Corp., of Mountain View, Calif., entered an agreement to develop a product incorporating ALZA¿s Macroflux skin interface technology and Theratechnologies¿ ThGRF (TH 9507), a growth hormone-releasing factor analogue. Financial terms were undisclosed.

¿ ViroLogic Inc., of South San Francisco, received a $600,000 research grant from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will fund new technology development to detect HIV resistance to entry inhibitors and to evaluate HIV vaccine candidates over two years.

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