¿ KS Biomedix plc, of London, announced positive results in the detailed six month follow-up of its Phase II study of CBF-BS2 in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. There was a significant improvement at all doses in swollen joint count, the primary endpoint. There also were significant improvements vs. placebo in pain assessments and in physician and patient assessments. The 131 patients in the trial all had RA that was inadequately controlled by current therapies. More than 70 percent continued to take existing medication throughout the trial. CBF-BS2, an anti-inflammatory small molecule, was safe and well tolerated, with no safety concerns over the six-month period. KS Biomedix said it expects a Phase III trial to begin early in 2001. The company also is considering starting a preclinical program to assess CBF-BS2's disease modifying properties.

¿ NicOx SA, of Sophia-Antipolis, France, took advantage of the American Gastroenterology Association Congress in San Diego last week to announce the ''positive results'' of preclinical trials of a new nitric oxide-releasing derivative of ursodeoxycholic acid (NCX 1000) in mouse models of liver disease. NicOx decided to develop a NO-version of ursodeoxycholic acid because it is known to have beneficial effects on patients suffering from diseases of the liver and biliary tract. Preliminary studies of NCX 1000 in animal models of hepatitis showed that the compound was significantly more effective than simple ursodeoxycholic acid in protecting against inflammation and apoptosis. In both in vivo and in vitro experiments, NCX 1000 was found not only to inhibit apoptosis in models where ursodeoxycholic acid is ineffective, but also to inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokine production from inflamed tissues. Chairman and CEO Michele Garufi, noting the data presented suggest the addition of the nitric oxide-releasing moiety increases the anti-inflammatory properties of ursodeoxycholic acid, confirmed that development of the compound would continue.

¿ Starpharma, an Australian biotech development fund, has shelved plans to raise A$20 million (US$11 million) on the Australian stock market because of the recent crash in high-tech stock prices. CEO John Raff said the company had been positioned to raise the money and had put a prospectus together, but had decided not to go ahead. If market conditions improved the float would be considered, but the company had enough money to continue development for several years. Starpharma is structured as a "pooled developed fund" - a structure that takes advantage of concessions under Australian tax laws - but operates as a biotech developer. The fund's main development project is a vaginal gel designed to prevent transmission of sexual diseases. The gel, which is 18 months away from clinical trials, uses various designs of a group of large molecules called "dendrimers."