¿ Abgenix Inc., of Fremont, Calif., formed a research collaboration with Diabetogen Biosciences Inc., of London, Ontario, to develop a fully human monoclonal antibody therapy against human antigen CD28 for the treatment of Type I diabetes, and possibly other autoimmune diseases. Abgenix will use its XenoMouse technology to generate fully human antibodies against the antigen and both parties will conduct in vitro and in vivo studies of the antibody candidate. Abgenix has an exclusive option to co-develop the antibody product with Diabetogen, although the use of anti-CD28 antibodies in treatment of autoimmune diseases is proprietary to Diabetogen.

¿ ALZA Corp., of Mountain View, Calif., and Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J., plan to merge in a stock-for-stock exchange with a net equity value of $10.5 billion, based on ALZA's 295 million fully diluted shares outstanding as of Monday. ALZA shareholders will receive a fixed exchange ration of .49 shares of J&J common stock for each ALZA share. ALZA's stock jumped 29 percent to close at $38.75 on Monday, on rumors of the deal, meaning ALZA shareholders will receive an 8 percent premium, based on the Monday closing price of $85.38 for J&J. The value of the deal excludes $1.8 billion in option proceeds for ALZA employees. ALZA will keep its name and become a freestanding unit of J&J. The boards of both companies approved the merger, which is subject to regulatory clearances and approval of ALZA shareholders. Last year, Abbott Laboratories, of Abbot Park, Ill., tried to buy ALZA for $7.3 billion, but the deal fell through due in part to Abbott's FDA troubles at the time over quality violations.

¿ AtheroGenics Inc., of Atlanta, began enrollment of healthy volunteers in a Phase I trial in the United States for its product, AGIX-4207, being developed for the treatment of signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. AtheroGenics focuses on the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases.

¿ Biotech Holdings Ltd., of Vancouver, British Columbia, signed an agreement for distribution of DIAB II in Turkey with Bilim Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Istanbul, Turkey. DIAB II is an insulin-receptor sensitizer, a new class of drugs for controlling chronic high blood sugar levels, typical of diabetes.

¿ Cangene Corp., of Winnipeg, Manitoba, completed patient recruitment for all of its Phase III trials: a bioequivalence trial of its anti-hepatitis B hyperimmune product, a Phase III trial investigating the efficacy of Leucotropin for enhancing white blood cell production in cancer patients, and a Phase III trial testing a human growth hormone in children with growth hormone deficiency.

¿ Cell Pathways Inc., of Horsham, Penn., said a complaint was filed against it and two officers in the Federal Court of Philadelphia on March 13, alleging the company made false and misleading statements about Aptosyn, its drug for the treatment of familial adenomatous polyposis. The complaint seeks unspecified damages on behalf of a purported class of all those who purchased common stock from Oct. 27, 1999, through Sept. 22, 2000, inclusive. Cell Pathways said it denies any wrongdoing and will contest the litigation. Aptosyn was deemed not approvable in September for familial polyposis.

¿ Durect Corp., of Cupertino, Calif., said Mallinckrodt Inc., of St. Louis, will supply Durect's clinical and commercial requirements for sufentanil, a component of its lead product Duros sufentanil, for the treatment of chronic pain. Durect recently completed patient enrollment for a Phase II trial of Duros sufentanil.

¿ Epimmune Inc., of San Diego, identified new vaccine targets for cancer-causing strains of the human papillomavirus. Company scientists reported in Tuesday's issue of the Journal of Clinical Cancer Research the discovery of four epitopes from the virus that can induce a cellular immune response in human cells in vitro. The company said it may lead to a vaccine for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.

¿ Ergo Science Corp., of Boston, said it received a Nasdaq determination last week indicating it has failed to meet the minimum bid price requirement for continued listing. Ergo has filed a request for a hearing and the stock will continue to be traded on Nasdaq pending the final decision by the Nasdaq Qualifications Panel. The hearing date should be within 45 days.

¿ GeneData AG, of Basel, Switzerland, entered a multiyear collaboration with Novartis Pharma AG, of Basel, Switzerland, to functionally characterize the genomes of pathogenic bacteria, identify antibacterial targets and aid in selection of compounds for the development of new antimicrobial drugs. GeneData will supply its GeneData Phylosopher to analyze the genomes of pharmaceutically relevant pathogens by comparing them with all available and sequenced genomes from microbial and higher organisms.

¿ IGEN International Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., said the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Southern Division, granted summary judgement in IGEN's favor dismissing a counterclaim for fraud by Roche Diagnostics, a division of F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, and struck down Roche's request for punitive damages. The fraud counterclaim charged IGEN with misrepresenting its intentions regarding rights that IGEN previously granted to Eisai Co. Ltd., of Tokyo.

¿ MDS Proteomics Inc., of Toronto, and Partners Healthcare Inc., of Boston, formed a clinical research alliance to study protein-to-protein pathways. MDS is opening a facility in Boston.

¿ NeuroMed Technologies Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, increased its second round of financing, announced in January, by C$3.8 million (US$2.4 million), bringing its total for the round to just under C$21 million. It said it would use the additional capital to advance its clinical pain program and accelerate its stroke nonclinical studies. The company focuses on neuronal calcium channel blockers. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 25, 2001.)

¿ NicOx SA, of Sophia-Antipolis, France, said a publication in the Proceedings National Academy of Sciences, clarified the mechanisms by which nitric oxide donors, and NCX 4016, NicOx's patented nitro-aspirin derivative, inhibit vascular smooth muscle proliferation. The paper showed that NCX 4016 displayed NO-releasing activity different than other NO donors, releasing NO only when in contact with specific target pathological cells and exhibited no interference on other arginine metabolic pathways.

¿ Nymox Pharmaceutical Corp., of Maywood, N.J., said a new study has found a link between spherons and senile plaques. Spherons are tiny balls of packed protein found in brain cells scattered throughout the brains of humans. The study was undertaken by Nymox scientists over the past two years and its researchers believe stopping or inhibiting the transformation of spherons into senile plaques will help stop or slow the progress of Alzheimer's disease.

¿ Sequenom Inc., of San Diego, placed four Mass-ARRAY systems, its platform for high-throughput analysis of genetic variations. New customers included HiberGen Ltd., of Bray, Ireland; Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology; and the National Cancer Center Research Institute in Japan.

¿ Telik Inc., of South San Francisco, began a Phase II trial to evaluate TLK286, its small-molecule drug candidate, as a treatment for refractory colon cancer. The multicenter, single-arm, open-label study should enroll up to 75 patients who relapsed or failed to respond to standard treatments for colon cancer. Final results of the Phase I study will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in San Francisco on May 12.

¿ Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, presented data demonstrating the effectiveness of its long-term drug delivery system for administration of buprenorphine in the treatment of opiate dependence at the Pharmaceutical Congress of the Americas in Orlando, Fla. The preclinical study showed that buprenorphine product was able to deliver buprenorphine at a constant rate, and maintain the targeted therapeutic plasma level for the entire three-month study period.

¿ Zyomyx Inc., of Hayward, Calif., obtained a license from Dyax Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., for its phage display antibody technology to develop high-density protein biochips using specific human antibodies from Dyax's human antibody library. Zyomyx was granted nonexclusive access to Dyax phage display library for the development and worldwide commercialization of protein biochips for research and development activities. There is an option to extend rights to include in vitro diagnostic applications. Although specific financial terms were not released, terms include research and technology fees, and royalties on sales.

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