¿ Axcan Pharma Inc., of Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, said it signed a letter of intent in which Baxter International Inc., of Deerfield, Ill., will acquire Axcan's 50 percent equity interest in Althin Biopharm Inc., a company active in hemodialysis. The price of the transaction is C$7.5 million (US$5.03 million) to be paid in cash at closing, expected to occur this month. Axcan will use net proceeds to reduce long-term debt.

¿ Boston Life Sciences Inc., of Boston, said trading of the company's stock will move today from the Nasdaq SmallCap Market to the Nasdaq National Market. The stock will continue to trade under the symbol BLSI.

¿ Cortex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., said it achieved its first milestone under the license and research collaboration with NV Organon, of Oss, the Netherlands, resulting in a $2 million payment to the company. The milestone reflects Organon's selection of an Ampakine candidate to enter into Phase I studies in humans. It comes less than 17 months after the collaboration started with an effort to find more potent and longer-acting Ampakines to treat patients with schizophrenia.

¿ Gene Shears Pty. Ltd., of Canberra, Australia, said the European patent office maintained without amendment European Patent No. 0360257 after rejecting an opposition filed by Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Boulder, Colo. The patent has broad composition of matter and use claims for hairpin ribozymes and is licensed exclusively to Gene Shears.

¿ Genzyme Transgenics Corp., of Framingham, Mass., and Genzyme General, of Cambridge, Mass., said the FDA granted orphan drug status for recombinant human antithrombin III (rhATIII) to treat ATIII-dependent heparin-resistant patients requiring anticoagulation.

¿ Glaxo Wellcome plc, of London, and SmithKline Beecham plc, of London, said the European Commission approved the merger of the two companies. The companies will become known as Glaxo SmithKline. To eliminate competition concerns in areas in which the two companies have overlapping products, the companies are out-licensing Kytril to treat emesis, Famvir to treat herpes, and either Vectavir cream or Zovirax ointment/cream to treat herpes simplex.

¿ Hyseq Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., said it has expanded the scope of co-development under its agreement with Kirin Brewery Co. Ltd., of Tokyo. The collaboration now will include potential drug candidates outside the field of cell growth factors, excluding solid tumor cancer genes. The two companies have extended the term of their agreement to Nov. 30 to allow additional time to finalize the identification of product candidates for further development. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 15, 1998, p. 1.)

¿ IGT Pharma Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, said Dominick & Dominick Securities Inc., of Toronto, will sell 5 million special warrants at C$1.20 per warrant for proceeds to the company of about C$6 million (US$4.02 million). Each warrant will convert into one common share of IGT and one-half warrant. Each whole warrant then is exercisable to purchase one common share at $1.60 for a period of 12 months from closing. Net proceeds will be used to accelerate the development of IGT's platform of central nervous system drugs to clinical trials. The company also expects to initiate later this year a Phase II trial of AVLB in cancer.

¿ Lynx Therapeutics Inc., of Hayward, Calif., said it formally launched its biology-based programs, with the initial program being in the area of immunopathology. The intention is to exploit Lynx's technologies to discover and commercialize diagnostic and disease target opportunities. Lynx Therapeutics GmbH, of Heidelberg, Germany, recently signed an agreement with the Institute for Immunology of the Heidelberg University Medical Center for research projects in basic cellular immunology and in clinical immunology of chronic inflammatory diseases.

¿ Microcide Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., said it executed a new contract with Daiichi Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, for joint research to discover and develop inhibitors to overcome the effect of efflux pumps in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Any products resulting from the collaboration are expected to be used in combination with Daiichi's quinolone antibiotics to increase their effectiveness against gram-negative bacteria and to overcome efflux pump-mediated drug resistance to Pseudomonas.

¿ Molecular Biosystems Inc., of San Diego, and Mallinckrodt Inc., of St. Louis, said they are restructuring their agreement concerning Optison, an intravenous ultrasound contrast agent. Mallinckrodt will assume full control of the Optison business, including responsibility for intellectual property disputes, clinical development, manufacturing and real estate. The restructured agreement follows a settlement in three ongoing patent disputes between Nycomed Amersham plc, of London; Sonus Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Bothell, Wash.; and MBI and Mallinckrodt. Nycomed and Mallinckrodt also formed an alliance in the ultrasound business to develop and market ultrasound contrast agents, starting with Optison. MBI now will receive an ongoing royalty of 5 percent on sales of agents, and it will pay $7 million to Mallinckrodt as part of the intellectual property settlement.

¿ Neurobiological Technologies Inc., of Richmond, Calif., said a Phase II trial of Xerecept (human corticotropin-releasing factor) in patients with peritumoral brain edema showed the primary neurological evaluations were significantly improved in the higher dose of the drug, compared to that of the dexamethasone control group. With only 33 patients enrolled, a rigorous statistical analysis could not be performed, the company said.

¿ SangStat Medical Corp., of Fremont, Calif., said the FDA accepted the filing of an investigational new drug application for Thymoglobulin to treat myelodysplastic syndrome. The company intends to begin enrolling patients in the Phase II trial in the second half of this year.

¿ SignalGene Inc. (SGI), of Montreal, said it signed a letter of intent to acquire the outstanding shares of Nanodesign, a computer-aided drug design company located in Guelph, Ontario. The transaction, expected to close by June 20, is valued at C$15 million (US$10.1 million). It will involve the issue of about 5.7 million common shares of SGI.

¿ United Therapeutics Corp., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., said it filed with the FDA its plans to begin a clinical study investigating the safety of transitioning pulmonary hypertension patients from the intravenous drug Flolan to the investigational subcutaneous drug Uniprost. Flolan is a formulation of the molecule prostacyclin approved for the treatment of primary pulmonary hypertension.

¿ Xoma Ltd., of Berkeley, Calif., said it granted nonexclusive licenses for the use of its technology for pharmaceutical production to Celltech Therapeutics Ltd., a subsidiary of Slough, England-based Celltech plc, and to ZymoGenetics Inc. The bacterial cell expression system reduces production costs, increases product yields and improves process control in the manufacture of genetically engineered pharmaceuticals, Xoma said.