¿ Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and its collaborators at the University of Washington said they have engineered stem cells with a "growth switch" using the Ariad Regulated Gene Expression Technology (ARGENT) system. Researchers demonstrated the expansion of genetically modified primary human blood cells with AP1903, Ariad's gene-targeted drug, showing it could be used to grow a specific population of red blood cells from progenitor cells isolated from human cord blood. Results of the study were published in part in the January 2000 issue of Blood. Ariad also said it expanded its ongoing collaboration with the university involving the development of stem cell therapy products, as well as the exclusive licensing of two of its patent applications covering methods for controlling the growth and differentiation of stem cells and other progenitor cells using ARGENT.

¿ Pharmacia Corp., of Peapack, N.J., said the FDA approved Camptosar (irinotecan hydrochloride injection) as a first-line therapy to treat patients with metastatic colorectal cancer in combination with 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin (5-FU/LV). The FDA approved it based on data from two prospective Phase III studies that demonstrated the potential of Camptosar to prolong patients' lives when used in combination with 5-FU/LV, compared with 5-FU/LV alone. Camptosar received FDA approval in 1998 as a second-line treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer. It also is marketed in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Latin America.