¿Ardais Corp., of Lexington, Mass., said it plans to accelerate genomics-based discovery through its nationwide clinical genomics initiative with academic medical centers to bridge the gap between gene discovery and clinical medicine needed to apply gene discovery to disease treatment. Ardais and its initiative partners will join to collect, process and utilize clinical materials and associated information. Duke University Medical Center and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are the first institutions to join Ardais in the initiative. Ardais will collect human tissue analyzed by participant medical institutions for conversion to products with unique formats that facilitate drug discovery experiments. Ardais believes the initiative to collect and use clinical materials and information can address the bottleneck created by overwhelming genomics data.

¿BioTransplant Inc., of Charlestown, Mass., said a novel strategy for inducing tolerance in pancreatic islet cell transplantation across allogeneic barriers could have a positive application in pig-to-human xenotransplantation for diabetes treatment, in conjunction with BioTransplant's ImmunoCognance technology, an approach designed to re-educate xenotransplant patients' immune systems to recognize donor tissue as "self." BioTransplant collaborators from the Massachusetts General Hospital's Transplantation Biology Research Center presented the findings at a conference in Rome, describing a new method for creating vascularized islet grafts as part of composite islet-kidney and thymo-islet kidney in a large animal model.

¿Cistron Biotechnology Inc., of Parsippany, N.J., will meet with shareholders Nov. 2 to vote on approval of the company's proposed acquisition by Celltech Group plc, of Slough, UK. The proposed merger is a stock-swap deal worth $18 million. (See BioWorld Today, March 23, 2000, p. 1.)

¿Compugen Ltd., of Tel Aviv, Israel, and Jamesburg, N.J., released an upgrade of its LabOnWeb.com Internet life science research engine, version 2.0. The new version includes an improved InstantRACE Rapid Elongation of Expressed Sequence Tags analysis tool, access to Waltham, Mass.-based Genome Therapeutics Corp.'s PathoGenome database, and unlimited access to one-click functional analysis of nucleic and protein sequences for non-commercial users.

¿Dura Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said it completed its acquisition of Spiros Development Corp. II Inc., of San Diego. SDCII Shareholders will receive $13.25 for every share of SDCII callable stock, and one five-year warrant to purchase .19 shares of Dura stock, exercisable at $17.94 per share. The total consideration under the merger agreement was about $106 million, or $16.47 per share of SDCII callable stock.

¿Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said it will begin offering options on its stock through the American Stock Exchange under the options symbol "QMN" beginning Sept. 5. The options will open with position limits of 120,000, and will be reduced to 75,000 after Nov. 20.

¿Mologen Inc., of Berlin, said treatment with MIDGE transfection vectors leads to a significant delay in transplanted cornea rejection in mouse models. Mologen has applied for patent protection for the transfection vector method, and the company is investigating applications of the method for human corneal grafts.

¿St. Jude Children's Research Hospital researchers have identified the cellular vehicle that transports pneumococcal disease, an immunoglobulin A transport mechanism the microbe reverses, forcing its way into cells and the bloodstream. The bacterium uses choline-binding protein A as a binding partner with immunoglobulin A, and researchers believe they can develop the binding agent as a vaccine candidate to block the pneumococcal invasion.

¿Virax Holdings Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia, said Australian authorities at the Therapeutic Goods Administration have approved the company's clinical trials exemption application requesting permission to conduct clinical trials to test an HIV/AIDS vaccine. The Phase I/IIa clinical trail will be conducted by researchers at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne and the Westmead and St. Vincent's hospitals in Sydney.

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