¿ Aquila Biopharmaceuticals Inc., of Framingham, Mass., received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to support the development of novel vaccines to prevent Chlamydia infections based on the CD1 immune enhancement technology. The CD1 proteins play a role in presenting antigenic molecules to the immune system.
¿ Atrix Laboratories Inc., of Fort Collins, Colo., will form a research joint venture with Elan Corp plc, of Dublin, Ireland, to develop and commercialize oncology and pain management products. Elan will provide funding to develop these compounds. Atrix will be the majority owner initially. Elan will make a $5 million equity investment in Atrix at a premium to market. The project will use Atrix's BEMA and ATRIGEL systems and Elan's NanoCrystal technology to deliver compounds targeted for major unmet medical needs, including control of side effects associated with chemotherapy or radiation.
¿ Cell Genesys Inc., of Foster City, Calif., said a single gene therapy treatment in a rat model of Parkinson's disease resulted in behavioral recovery and nerve cell regeneration. In addition, there was a significant reinnervation of the striatum, an area of the brain that usually deteriorates in Parkinson's disease. The company's proprietary adeno-associated viral gene delivery system delivered the gene for glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein that stimulates nerve growth. The findings were published in the June issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.
¿ Cellomics Inc., of Pittsburgh, and Beckman Coulter Inc., of Fullerton, Calif., entered into a long-term partnership to offer Cellomics' High Content Screening technologies to Automated Drug Discovery customers. Financial terms were not disclosed.
¿ Coley Pharmaceutical Group, of Wellesley, Mass., and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, of Hilden, Germany, established a research collaboration for the development and evaluation of CpG DNA-based cancer products. CpG DNA molecules are novel immune stimulants that activate the immune system and may enhance the body's ability to fight cancer, the company said. Ludwig's researchers will conduct early studies looking at the product as a stand-alone drug, as well as in combination with several of Ludwig's proprietary tumor-specific antigens for potential cancer vaccines.
¿ Exelixis Inc., of South San Francisco, completed a working draft genomic sequence of Ustilago maydis, or corn smut, which is a model system for plant fungal diseases. By combining this information with genomic studies of other fungi, Exelixis can identify new, broad-spectrum targets that may significantly shorten the development timetable for fungicides, the company said. Exelixis has obtained the sequence from over 97 percent of all encoded genes, and the sequencing and bioinformatic annotation phase should be completed by the end of the summer.
¿ Hemispherx Biopharma Inc., of Philadelphia, said its wholly owned European subsidiary, Hemispherx Biopharma Europe, filed a "for comment" draft of a new orphan drug application for Ampligen for the treatment of severe forms of chronic fatigue syndrome.
¿ Invitrogen Corp., of San Diego, acquired Israel-based Ethrog Biotechnologies Ltd. in a deal worth about $15.2 million. Ethrog has developed and patented a novel, fully enclosed system for the electrophoretic separation of macromolecules. Invitrogen will issue 200,000 shares of its common stock for all the capital stock of Ethrog in a transaction that is intended to be accounted for as a pooling of interests. Invitrogen's stock (NSADAQ:IVGN) closed Thursday at $75.812, up 31 cents.
¿ Lexicon Genetics Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas, said it expanded its multi-year collaboration with Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., tripling the size of the initial numbers of knockout mouse models that Lexicon will generate for Millennium. In the original agreement, announced in July 1999, Lexicon planned to generate the mice for Millennium based on gene targets provided by Millennium over a three-year period. The expanded agreement commits Millennium to obtain certain numbers of knockout mice from Lexicon during each year of the collaboration. Additional terms were not disclosed.
¿ Palatin Technologies Inc., of Princeton, N.J., will start clinical development of its erectile dysfunction drug, PT-141. The company expects to file an investigational new drug application later this summer. The initial study will evaluate safety, pharmacokinetics and efficacy in 32 men with erectile dysfunction. PT-141 is a synthetic modification of PT-14, an analogue of a naturally occurring peptide hormone called alpha M.S.H.
¿ Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J., said the FDA approved Genotropin (somatropin [rDNA origin] for injection) for the long-term treatment of growth failure in children with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). PWS is a rare genetic disorder that causes short stature; an involuntary, continuous urge to eat; low muscle tone; and cognitive disabilities. Between 17,000 and 22,000 people in the U.S. have PWS. The FDA also granted the drug orphan status.
¿ Sequenom Inc., of San Diego, will sell a MassArray system to Metabion GmbH, of Planegg-Martinsried, Germany. Metabion will use the technology to monitor the quality of Metabion's high-volume oligonucleotide production while providing Sequenom with a reliable and consistent source for oligonucleotides, an important element in assay development for genotyping technologies. MassArray technology and interpretation software can support the automated quality control of up to 10,000 oligonucleotides per day.
¿ Serono SA, of Geneva, Switzerland, will file a registration statement with the SEC as part of a global public offering of an aggregate of about $2 billion of its bearer shares, which will be sold in the form of bearer shares or American depositary shares. The company expects that about $1 billion of the bearer shares to be sold will be newly issued shares, and the rest will be sold by its controlling shareholder, the Bertarelli family. The proceeds will be used to finance its activities and expand business.
¿ Tanox Inc., of Houston, was awarded a $100,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant to study the use of its anti-Factor D monoclonal antibody, 166-32, in an in vivo model of cardiopulmonary bypass surgery. Factor D is a component of the complement system. Factor D is an early, essential protein of the alternative complement system present at relatively low levels in the blood.
¿ Techniclone Corp., of Tustin, Calif., said Schering AG, of Frankfurt, Germany, its strategic partner for its non-Hodgkins lymphoma drug, Oncolym, will start enrolling patients for a Phase I study. Schering's U.S. subsidiary, Berlex Laboratories, of Wayne, N.J., will conduct the study, which will treat up to 18 people. Four centers will participate.
¿ Third Wave Technologies Inc., of Madison, Wis., entered into an agreement with SmithKline Beecham Biologicals, of Rixensart, Belgium, to evaluate Third Wave's proprietary Invader operating system for use in therapeutic vaccine applications. Third Wave will develop proprietary Invader assays for genotyping and gene expression analysis for use in SmithKline' Pharmaccines program. Financial terms were not disclosed.
¿ Variagenics Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and Waters Corp., of Milford, Mass., entered into a strategic alliance to develop and commercialize NuCleave genetic variance reagent kits for use in the clinical development of pharmaceutical products. The kits will combine Variagenics' chemical cleavage genotyping/haplotyping technologies with Waters' DNA sample purification technology specifically for mass spectrometry applications.