AVI Biopharma Inc., of Portland, Ore., said additional analysis from a Phase II trial of the Avicine therapeutic cancer vaccine showed 51 of 77 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer demonstrated an immune response to human chorionic gonadotropin, with a median survival of 42 weeks. The company said it has developed a more potent vaccine it intends to use in upcoming trials.

Axys Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, began a Phase II study of APC 2059 to evaluate safety and effectiveness of a topically administered cream formulation for treating mild to moderate psoriasis. The small-molecule compound is designed to inhibit tryptase, an enzyme in mast cells involved in inflammatory diseases. Each patient will have lesions treated with APC 2059 and placebo.

BioChem Pharma Inc., of Laval, Quebec, launched Zeffix (lamivudine) in South Korea for treating chronic hepatitis B. The product is approved or pending approval for that indication in markets throughout the world.

Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said a Phase II trial of Amevive (recombinantly engineered LFA-3/IgG human fusion protein), a product for moderate to severe psoriasis, showed it had an "excellent" dose response and side-effect profile. The trial involved 229 patients at 22 sites in the U.S., and compared weekly intravenous bolus injections of drug to placebo. Efficacy data were not disclosed. The company said it planned to move aggressively into Phase III studies after completing improvements to the commercial process.

Diversa Corp., of San Diego, and Invitrogen Corp., of San Diego, agreed to exchange technologies and products for specific uses. Diversa got an exclusive license to Invitrogen's TOPO Cloning technology to use for cloning nucleic acids from mixed populations and uncultured organisms. Invitrogen got exclusive access to use certain DNA modifying enzymes in the research reagent market.

EnzyMed Inc., of Iowa City, Iowa, said it will receive undisclosed up-front, milestone and royalty payments under an agreement to optimize lead compounds for IntraBiotics Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Mountain View, Calif. IntraBiotics said its goal is to rapidly identify and develop antimicrobial agents.

Matrix Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Fremont, Calif., expanded its Phase II program of FMdC by initiating a Phase II study in advanced or recurrent cancer of the colon or rectum. A Phase II trial of the nucleoside analogue in non-small-cell lung cancer now includes 30 patients and is expected to be completed this year.

NPS Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Salt Lake City, said its Japanese licensee, Kirin Brewery Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, began development of a second-generation compound in the class known as "calcimimetics." Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., is conducting U.S. Phase II trials of the same NPS second-generation compound. Calcimimetics are small molecules, designed to treat hyperparathyroidism, that activate calcium receptors on parathyroid glands.

Paracelsian Inc., of Ithaca, N.Y., said studies of the activity of Andrographolide - a compound derived from its library of traditional Chinese medicines - confirmed it has synergy with AZT in treating HIV. The company said AZT levels could be cut in half without reducing the effect against HIV.

PathoGenesis Corp., of Seattle, said its subsidiary signed a research agreement giving Swedish Orphan AB distribution rights for TOBI (tobramycin solution for inhalation) in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. The drug is under review in Europe. Also, PathoGenesis signed an agreement with Germany-based PulmoPharm GmbH for distribution of TOBI in that country. The product is being reviewed in the U.K., the lead country for seeking approval to market it in the European Union, for management of infections in cystic fibrosis patients.

PE Biosystems Group, of San Jose, Calif., and Paradigm Genetics Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., signed a five-year agreement to develop bioinformatics software for functional genomics. The relationship will leverage Paradigm's experience in agricultural genomics with PE's information and bioinformatics systems.

Vimrx Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Wilmington, Del., said its name change to Nexell Therapeutics Inc. and the move of its headquarters to Irvine, Calif., were approved by shareholders.