* Calypte Biomedical Corp., of Alameda, Calif., said affiliate Pepgen Corp. will begin Phase I trials of its oral interferon product, Interferon Tau, in multiple sclerosis patients. The studies will be conducted in conjunction with Harvard Medical School, with safety a primary focus.
* Celtrix Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Jose, Calif., said Phase IIa results of SomatoKine in patients with Type I diabetes showed their average daily insulin requirement decreased by 49 percent and average daily blood glucose levels decreased by 23 percent compared to levels associated with conventional insulin therapy. Total serum cholesterol was reduced by 12 percent. The study involved 12 patients, who served as their own controls. The company plans a full-scale Phase II study.
* Cerus Corp., of Concord, Calif., said it received FDA approval to go ahead with trials of its allogeneic cellular immune therapy system, which is designed to improve transplant engraftment and reduce adverse immune responses relating to bone marrow transplant procedures.
* Dovetail Technologies Inc., of College Park, Md., received approval in Canada to start human trials of Betathine, or Beta LT, which is designed to stimulate the body's cancer-fighting ability. The studies will be in patients with multiple myeloma and low-grade B-cell lymphoma.
* Intercardia Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., said a monitoring committee recommended the continuation of the Beta-blocker Evaluation of Survival Trial (BEST), which is testing the drug Bextra in the treatment of heart failure. The study began in June 1995 and ended enrollment on Dec. 31 with 2,708 patients. Patient follow-up will continue at least 18 months after treatment.
* LeukoSite Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and Medarex Inc., of Annandale, N.J., expanded their licensing arrangement to allow LeukoSite to make fully human antibodies for a number of targets using the HuMAb-Mouse transgenic technology. Medarex could receive license fees, milestones and royalties. Also, Medarex received certain additional rights to an anti-interleukin-8 antibody being developed jointly.
* Milkhaus Laboratory Inc., of Boxford, Mass., said its drug HP-3 was safe and effective in a Phase II trial treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Earlier this month the company said the same drug showed efficacy in a Phase II trial in chronic bronchitis. Milkhaus plans to begin discussions this spring with potential licensees.
* Miravant Medical Technologies, of Santa Barbara, Calif., said it closed an equity investment and credit agreement with Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc., of Bridegwater, N.J., involving P&U's purchase of $19 million in stock and an extension of credit of up to $22.5 million. The companies also amended their ophthalmology agreement and entered into a right of first negotiation deal in the area of cardiovascular medicine. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 20, 1999, p. 1.)
* Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Richmond, Calif., and Bayer Corp., of Pittsburgh, selected a lead compound in their five-year-old collaboration to develop small molecules that inhibit the ras pathway. Filing of an investigational new drug application is expected in the first half of next year. The compound inhibits an undisclosed target in the MAP kinase activation arm of the pathway, is orally active and caused tumor regression in mouse models.
* Synsorb Biotech Inc., of Calgary, Alberta, signed a letter of agreement to acquire Oncolytics Biotech Inc., a cancer research company founded on work performed at the University of Calgary. Oncolytics has reported the naturally occurring human reovirus selectively kills a variety of cancer cells in mouse models. Synsorb will pay stock worth about C$2.5 million.