¿ Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., said scientists have solved the atomic structure of a protein that plays a critical role in cell cycle regulation. The protein, checkpoint kinase I, is pivotal in a step of cellular regulation that protects cancer cells from damage caused by chemotherapy and radiation. The discovery is reported in the March 17 edition of the journal Cell.

¿ Ambryx Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., said it acquired rights to a new family of candidate taste receptors and related technologies from the University of California. In the March 17 issue of Cell, researchers report about their discovery of a large family of mammalian taste receptors, called T2Rs. More than 40 genes for T2Rs have been identified in humans and rodents. Ambryx received rights for T2Rs, as well as to T1Rs and other molecules involved in the biology of taste.

¿ Cangene, of Toronto, said it started a pivotal trial of its anti-hepatitis B hyperimmune product. It said the study should be completed by the end of the year, and it will follow quickly with regulatory filings in the U.S. and Canada. Also, the company said it terminated a distribution agreement with Octapharma due to the latter's failure to meet contractual obligations.

¿ Demegen Inc., of Pittsburgh, said it arranged a $2.7 million private placement of 5.4 million restricted shares of stock and warrants to purchase an additional 5.4 million shares to institutional and other accredited investors. The closing is expected to occur within a week.

¿ Digene Corp., of Gaithersburg, Md., said preliminary results indicate that Digene HPV Test was 96 percent sensitive in detecting cervical disease in women with Ascus Pap smear diagnoses, while the expert Pap smear used in the trial was 85 percent sensitive. The HPV Test also was slightly more specific than the Pap smear.

¿ GenSci OrthoBiologics Inc., of Irvine, Calif., said it intends to combine its tortuous interference claims with its recently filed antitrust suit against Osteotech Inc., of Toronto. As part of GenSci's strategy to focus on legal claims that provide the greatest value to the company, it is withdrawing its patent infringement suit against Osteotech. The result is to squarely put Osteotech's patents, products and business at risk, while preserving GenSci's own patents, it said.

¿ Genzyme Tissue Repair, of Cambridge, Mass., said orthopedic surgeons found that 85 percent of patients treated with Carticel autologous cultured chondrocytes to repair damaged cartilage on the thighbone part of the knee showed improvement four years after therapy. Carticel, approved in August 1997, is indicated for the repair of damaged cartilage on the thighbone part of the knee caused by acute or repetitive trauma in patients who have had an inadequate response to a prior arthroscopic or other surgical repair procedure. The report with data collected on 47 patients was scored according to clinician and patient evaluations of overall knee condition, patient reports of symptoms, such as pain and swelling, and knee examination results.

¿ Immunomedics Inc., of Morris Plains, N.J., filed a patent infringement suit against Cytogen Corp., of Princeton, N.J., and C.R. Bard alleging that Cytogen's ProstaScint imaging agent for detection of prostate cancers, which Bard co-markets, infringes Immunomedics' U.S. Patent No. 4,460,559.

¿ NEN Life Science Products, of Boston, said it will expand its pioneering Micromax family of cDNA microarray products for differential gene expression research during the coming year. This includes the introduction of completely new systems, new glass cDNA microarrays and making system components available separately.

¿ North American Vaccine, of Columbia, Md., said it advised Baxter International Inc., of Deerfield, Ill., that it will not satisfy certain conditions due by April 1, which are part of the agreement for closing their merger. The company said it will not obtain regulatory approval in time from British health authorities for NeisVac-C vaccine and it will not complete the manufacture of a two-month supply of doses of NeisVac-C vaccine for delivery. Baxter has proposed that the parties modify the share exchange agreement. Otherwise, it said it would not close on the acquisition if the current terms are not met. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 19, 1999, p. 1.)

¿ SciClone Pharmaceuticals, of San Mateo, Calif., said Zadaxin has been approved for marketing in Thailand, Laos and Malta. It is now approved in 19 countries, principally for treatment of hepatitis B and hepatitis C. SciClone has filed for Zadaxin marketing approval in 18 other countries.