¿ Arrow Therapeutics Ltd., of London, raised $16.75 million in a second venture capital financing round. GIMV nv, of Antwerp, Belgium, invested $4.15 million. Other investors included Alta Partners, of San Francisco; TVM Techno Venture Management GmbH, of Munich, Germany; 3i Group plc, of London; and U.K.-based Northern Venture Managers. Arrow is a biopharmaceutical company using a unique genome-based approach to antimicrobial drug discovery.
¿ BioVector Therapeutics SA, of Toulouse, France, reported positive results for a second Phase I study for a novel nasally administered influenza vaccine being developed in cooperation with BioChem Pharma Inc., of Laval, Quebec. The vaccine incorporates inactivated influenza antigens with licensed Biovector proprietary delivery technology that enables the vaccine to be administered using a nasal spray. Biovector is working to access the vaccine doses necessary for a Phase III study.
¿ Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., said the European Patent Office Technical Board of Appeals upheld the validity of its European hepatitis C virus patent No. 0 318 216 in amended form. The final patent contains broad claims that cover nucleic acid testing for virus detection and the manufacture, use or sale of such tests, including PCR kits. The decision is final and unappealable. F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG, of Basel, Switzerland, challenged the patent in 1993.
¿ Genset SA, of Paris, named Andre Pernet president and chief executive officer. Pascal Brandys, co-founder, chairman and CEO, will resign from his duties but will remain as a company director. Prior to joining Genset, Pernet was corporate officer and vice president of Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill.
¿ Helix BioPharma Corp., of Aurora, Ontario, launched its cervical cancer therapy initiative with a collaborative research agreement with Althea Foundation, a Belgian non-profit organization. The two groups will work to develop slow-release therapies for the treatment of cervical cancer.
¿ ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Costa Mesa, Calif., acquired Solco Basel AG, of Warszawa, Poland. Solco's dermatology, skin care, wound healing and ophthalmology product lines are sold in Europe, the Middle East, Russia, China and Japan. Terms were not revealed.
¿ Immunex Corp., of Seattle, licensed rights to cancer-derived antigens from UroCor Inc., of Oklahoma City. Immunex will pay an initial license fee as well as future milestone and royalty payments. Immunex will be responsible for all research and development, and potential commercialization of any approved therapeutic antibodies against licensed UroCor target antigens. UroCor has identified and patented cell surface proteins that are potential targets for development of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies against prostate cancer. UroCor's stock (NASDAQ:UCOR) closed Wednesday at $5.25, up 50 cents, or 10.5 percent.
¿ Kinetek Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said researchers at Princess Margaret Hospital's Ontario Cancer Institute have discovered the role of an enzyme involved in the regulation of many inflammatory diseases. Kinetek exclusively licensed the discovery and will develop it for future therapeutic use. The research focused on a gene, GSK-3beta, which produces an enzyme that is critical in relaying genetic information that control early embryonic development and cell growth in adults. The news was reported in the July 6 issue of Nature.
¿ Labopharm Inc., of Laval, Quebec, said it reached agreements in principle to develop new formulations of existing products for a major pharmaceutical company. Details are expected to be provided soon. Also at its annual meeting of shareholders, the company said Donald Buxton, previously president and CEO, was named chairman, and James Howard-Tripp was named president and CEO. Normand Balthazard resigned as chairman.
¿ NicOx SA, of Sophia-Antipolis, France, received positive clinical results with HCT 1026 from its Phase I/II dermatology study in 16 healthy subjects with methyl nicotinate-induced contact urticaria. Preliminary results showed significant anti-inflammatory activity. The study compared the ointment against the placebo, flurbiprofen 1 percent ointment and a reference compound, niflumic acid 3 percent ointment. HCT 1026 showed a potent and significantly higher anti-inflammatory activity than the other ointments.
¿ Pharmacopeia Inc., of Princeton, N.J., said that Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J., ended their two-year research agreement six month early. Replacing the research collaboration will be a new agreement under which Pharmacia will continue to develop certain lead compounds identified by Pharmacopoeia under the original agreement. Pharmacia cited a change in strategic direction as the reason for its action. Pharmacia has paid Pharmacopoeia a termination fee, which will give Pharmacopeia the same revenue that it would have received under the full agreement. Pharmacopoeia also said it had identified novel lead compounds against three Pharmacia targets, which resulted in milestone payments. Pharmacia's rights to all lead compounds were terminated, but Pharmacia intends to repurchase, for a guaranteed up-front payment, certain rights to two classes of novel lead compounds. Terms were not disclosed.
¿ Qiagen N.V., of Venlo, the Netherlands, said the distribution date of its 4-for-1 stock split is intended to be July 13, with the ex-distribution date July 14. Trading on the shares is expected to start July 14 on both the Neuer Markt Division of the Frankfurt Exchange and on Nasdaq.
¿ QLT Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, filed an answer and counterclaims against Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEEI) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The suit was filed for an ongoing dispute involving an issued U.S. method patent to which QLT, Massachusetts General Hospital and MEEI have co-ownership rights. The patent, No. 5,798,349, was issued on Aug. 25, 1998. QLT negotiated with the hospital to pay a royalty on Visudyne sales, for an exclusive license of the hospital's co-ownership rights under the patent. MEEI has refused an offer from QLT on terms comparable to the hospital's license. Visudyne, a light-activated therapy, is approved to treat wet age-related macular degeneration. (See BioWorld Today, April 14, 2000, p. 1.)
¿ Rosetta Inpharmatics Inc., of Kirkland, Wash, reported findings that illustrate the potential for gene expression analysis technologies in deciphering the molecular mechanisms of disease. Researchers used a model eukaryotic system to analyze the role of changes in chromosome number on gene expression. The study indicated that DNA expression analysis could assist in understanding molecular processes underlying cellular changes known to be important in cancer. The findings were published in the July 3 issue of Nature Genetics.
¿ Senetek plc, of Napa, Calif., said the FDA has upgraded the status of the investigational new drug application of Invicorp to a partial clinical hold. That allows human studies to be conducted in the U.S. with a limited duration of three months and total number of doses not exceeding three per week. The FDA also recommended Senetek conduct a two-year rodent study of Invicorp as the result of previously reported brown adipose tissue proliferations observed in the course of a competitor's rodent study. In that study, phentolamine mesylate, an ingredient formulated in low concentrations in Invicorp, was administered daily. Invicorp is a combination of vasoactive intestinal peptide with 1 to 2 mg of phentolamine mesylate being developed for erectile dysfunction. Separately, the product was approved in New Zealand.
¿ The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation's Center for Islet Transplantation at Harvard Medical School has developed a new avenue for beta cell replacement therapy by cultivating human islets in vitro from digested pancreatic tissue that is normally discarded. The research is published in the July 3 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
¿ Theratechnologies, of Montreal, said the Societe generale de financement du Quebec raised its stake in the company to 9.2 percent following the exercise of 207,550 warrants at C$6 (US$4.09) each. The investment was C$1.26 million (US$848,732).
¿ Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., starting patient dosing in its Phase II trial of VX-497, a drug for the treatment of hepatitis C virus infection, in combination with interferon alpha. The trial follows the completion of a clinical study assessing the safety and preliminary efficacy of VX-497 as monotherapy for treatment of the disease. The four-week trial will involve 54 adult patients who have not previously received antiviral therapy. VX-497 is an inhibitor of inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase, a cellular enzyme that is essential for production of guanine nucleotides, one of the building blocks of RNA and DNA.