¿ Affymetrix Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., entered into an EasyAccess Silver agreement with Pfizer Inc., of New York. Under the terms of the deal, Pfizer gets preferential access to Affymetrix¿s custom and standard GeneChip arrays, instrumentation and software to monitor gene expression.

¿ Biomatrix Inc., of Ridgefield, N.J., received regulatory approval to market its viscoelastic product Synvisc, for pain in osteoarthritis of the knee, in South Africa.

¿ Celgene Inc., of Warren, N.J., said the National Cancer Institute began a Phase II pilot trial to administer Thalomid (thalidomide) to patients with recurrent and metastatic squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

¿ Chiron Diagnostics, of Tarrytown, N.Y., a business unit of Bayer Diagnostics, began the premarket approval application process for the Quantiplex HIV-1 RNA 3.0 Assay, which incorporates third-generation branched DNA technology for quantitation of HIV-1 viral load in human plasma. Bayer Diagnostics is a member of the Bayer Group, of Leverkusen, Germany.

¿ Inflazyme Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Richmond, British Columbia, said it received a preliminary report regarding 14-day preclinical toxicology testing of IPL576,092 for the treatment of asthma, and will proceed to a Phase I study, subject to review and approval of the protocol by an ethics committee.

¿ Metabolic Modulators Research Ltd. (MMRL), of Edmonton, Alberta, and Chugai Biopharmaceuticals Inc. (CBI), of San Diego, signed a five-year drug-discovery collaboration and license agreement to develop, manufacture and market therapeutic drugs for cardiovascular disease. CBI will fund MMRL research directed at validation of drug discovery targets, and provide a technology access fee. CBI will adapt the targets to its high-throughput screening systems, and MMRL will profile potential candidates discovered at CBI in its model systems. CBI gets worldwide rights to all cardiovascular products arising from the deal. MMRL will get royalties from sales, and milestone payments. CBI¿s parent company is Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., of Taipei, Japan.

¿ Powderject Pharmaceuticals plc, of Oxford, U.K., and its wholly owned subsidiary, Powderject Vaccines Inc., presented data demonstrating for the first time in a human clinical trial cellular immunity with a DNA vaccine delivered to skin by way of the Powderject System. Data related to a Phase Ib trial of the company¿s hepatitis B prophylactic DNA vaccine were presented at the second annual Conference on Vaccine Research in Bethesda, Md.

¿ Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y., said it began, with Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G), of Cincinnati, a Phase I clinical study of Regeneron¿s Axokine second-generation ciliary neurotrophic factor, under an investigational new drug application filed with the FDA. P&G is funding the development of Axokine through initial clinical studies.

¿ Sibia Neurosciences Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., entered into a non-exclusive license agreement for its patented transcription-based assay technology with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York, which will use the technology for identifying compounds that interact with cell-surface proteins.

¿ Targeted Genetics Inc., of Seattle, said a Phase I/II clinical trial of tgAAV-CF, the company¿s gene-therapy product for cystic fibrosis, showed reduced inflammation of sinuses as compared with placebo. The degree of inflammation correlates with the amount of active disease.

¿ Vimrx Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Wilmington, Del., purchased 627,405 shares of its stock for $1 per share from CellPro Inc., of Bothell, Wash. The shares were purchased by CellPro a few months ago in connection with a deal between Vimrx subsidiary Nexell Therapeutics Inc. and CellPro.