Avant Immunotherapeutics Inc., of Needham, Mass., will starting enrolling patients in its Phase I trial of CETi-1, a vaccine aimed at preventing or treating atherosclerosis by raising serum levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. The study will take place at the Chicago Center for Clinical Research. The company also achieved a milestone in its partnership with SmithKline Beecham plc, of London, to develop and commercialize a two-dose oral rotavirus vaccine. The milestone is based on Avant's completion of a Phase II efficacy study in infants and SB Biologicals, of Rixensart, Belgium, establishing a commercially viable process for the vaccine's manufacturing.
Avax Technologies Inc., of Kansas City, Mo., will market its cancer vaccine, M-Vax, in Australia. M-Vax is in pivotal trials in the U.S. for patients with stage 3 melanoma. Avax will form a new subsidiary, Avax Australia Pty. Ltd., and has entered into a letter of intent for a joint venture with Neptunus International Holdings Ltd. (NIHL) to manufacture and markets its autologous cell vaccine in Australia and New Zealand. NIHL will purchase $2.61 million (A$4 million) in shares and has the option to purchase up to $6.51 million in shares, or 50 percent interest in Avax Australia Pty. Ltd.
Cytel Corp., of San Diego, said it will merge with its majority-owned subsidiary, Epimmune Inc., of Laguna Nigel, Calif. on June 30. After the combination, current shareholders of Cytel will retain the same stake in the company as they now hold indirectly in the subsidiary, which is about 67 percent. The new company's name will be Epimmune Inc.
Draxis Health Inc., of Mississauga, Ontario, in-licensed from Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, the exclusive Canadian rights to eight neurology products, including three that are approved and three that are ready to be filed with the Canadian Health Protection Branch. Draxis will pay Elan a one-time up-front fee of $12 million. Elan will purchase about 3 million treasury shares of Draxis at $2.63 per share, a premium to the current trading price, which represents an equity stake of about 8.6 percent.
Hoechst Marion Roussel Inc., of Frankfurt, Germany, submitted insulin glargine for FDA approval as well as approval with the European Medicinal Evaluations Agency. Glargine is a long-acting, once daily basal insulin.
ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Costa Mesa, Calif., said its licensing partner, Schering-Plough Corp., of New York, launched Rebetol (ribavirin) capsules in Germany for use in combination with interferon alfa-2b injection for the treatment of relapsed and previously untreated hepatitis C patients.
InSite Vision Inc., of Alameda, Calif., reported positive results of its ISV-205 Phase II glaucoma study. The study showed that ISV-205 reduced by 75 percent intraocular pressure elevations and markedly blunted the pressure rise during the six-week dosing period. Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc., of Bridgewater, N.J., licensed the drug earlier this year.