¿ Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, acquired rights to a series of patent applications for the exendin-4 gene from Daniel J. Drucker at Toronto Hospital. Amylin is conducting Phase II clinical studies of AC2993, synthetic exendin-4, as a drug candidate for Type 2 diabetes. Exendin-4 is a peptide isolated from oral secretions of the Gila monster.
¿ Avant Immunotherapeutics Inc., of Needham, Mass., is working with Pasteur Merieux Connaught, of Lyon, France, in a Phase I clinical study to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of an Adjumer-formulated respiratory syncytial virus vaccine. Avant received a milestone payment from Pasteur Merieux for initiating the study.
¿ Cell Therapeutics Inc., of Seattle, and Jerry Nadler, a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia, have secured a grant from the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International aimed at developing an early intervention and possible prevention of complications in Type 1 diabetes. The money will help build on the finding that a novel class of therapeutic drugs that block the signaling protein interleukin-12, which is based on Cell Therapeutics' Lisofylline drug, may benefit treatment of Type 1 diabetes.
¿ Cypress Bioscience Inc., of San Diego, had its pilot clinical study published in The Journal of Rheumatology (Volume 26, August 1999). The study suggests that extracorporeal protein A therapy using Cypress's Prosorba column may have a role in the management of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. Results from the trial indicated that 41.7 percent of patients showed significant improvement with the Prosorba column after 12 treatments.
¿ InterMune Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., filed a biologics license application for Actimmune (interferon gamma 1-b) for the treatment of osteopetrosis, a rare, life-threating bone disorder. Actimmune was licensed from Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, and was first approved for marketing in 1991 for preventing the rare inherited disorder, chronic granulomatous disease. InterMune this year was spun off from Connetics Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif. (See BioWorld Today, April 30, 1999, p. 1.) Separately, the company completed an additional closing of its Series A preferred stock financing. Sofinnova Venture Partners, of San Francisco, purchased $1 million of Series A preferred stock and will soon close on another $500,000 for a total of $7.5 million raised in this round of financing. InterMune is planning on starting a Phase III trial of Actimmune in multiple-drug-resistant tuberculosis.
¿ Lifeline BioTechnologies Inc., of Reno, Nev., has received $900,000 in the first round of a $5 million funding for clinical trials of the company's First Warning system for the early detection of breast cancer.
¿ Novocell Inc., of Irvine, Calif., has been formed as a new company succeeding Neocrin Co., of Irvine, Calif. The goal of Novocell is the same as it was for Neocrin: to focus on cell transplant therapy for diabetes and other diseases. The new company, however, will employ new technology focused on the expansion of human allograft insulin- producing islet cells as the source of the therapeutic for diabetes. The technology also will be applicable to non-human xenograft tissue.
¿ PathoGenesis Corp., of Seattle, received a $1.5 million grant from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Therapeutics Development Grants Program. The two-year grant will help the company identify novel classes of antibiotics and potential drug candidates to treat serious lung infections, particularly those caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
¿ Procept Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., has initiated four new Phase I clinical trials of its 06-Benzylguanine (BG) chemosensitizing agent. The trials, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, should determine the maximum tolerated dose of BCNU, an alkylating agent, in combination with BG.
¿ Repligen Corp., of Needham, Mass., has been awarded Phase I small business innovation research grants from the National Cancer Institute and the National Science Foundation to support the discovery of novel active compounds from its combinatorial chemical libraries. The grants will support the characterization of inhibitors of heparanase discovered by Repligen in a combinatorial library of organic compounds. Heparanase is implicated in disease-associated processes, including angiogenesis, metastasis and inflammation.
¿ Sangamo BioSciences Inc., of Point Richmond, Calif., has signed a collaborative research agreement with Schering AG, of Berlin, under which Sangamo will provide specific Universal GeneTools to Schering for evaluation in its research programs. The technology enables the design and generation of highly specific ZFP transcription factors that can recognize and regulate any target gene or DNA sequence.
¿ Structural Bioinformatics Inc., of San Diego, was awarded a $98,000 Phase I small business innovation research grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Md., to develop non-peptide small molecules for asthma treatment. The money will enable scientists to apply the company's protein modeling and dynamic pharmacophore-based searching of combinatorial libraries to identify and synthesize putative small-molecule interleukin-5 antagonists.