* Aclara Biosciences Inc., of Hayward, Calif., closed on a $15 million private equity financing. SG Cowen Securities Corp. was placement agent. Alta Partners, of San Francisco, led the financing. Privately held Aclara has established microfabrications and microfluidics technology to advance new tools for drug discovery and genomics.
* Anesta Corp., of Salt Lake City, entered an option agreement with Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, involving Anesta's Oral Transmucosal System (OTC) for drug delivery. The agreement includes a collaboration that combines OTC with undisclosed compounds. The companies then may enter into an exclusive licensing agreement.
* Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said its board of directors authorized the repurchase of up to 4 million common shares. The company said the move enhances long-term value, and the stock will provide the company with treasury shares for corporate purposes, such as employee stock plans.
* Immunex Corp., of Seattle, said its board approved a 2-for-1 split of its common shares. Shareholders will receive one common share for every one held on March 11, 1999. The move will increase the outstanding shares to about 80 million.
* Magainin Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., said data from ongoing Phase I trials of the anti-angiogenic compound squalimine showed it was well-tolerated in advanced cancer patients, and the safety profile should allow the company to begin Phase II testing in the second quarter.
* Palatin Technologies Inc., of Princeton, N.J., was awarded Phase 1 and 2 Small Business Innovation Research grants totaling $100,000 and $750,000, respectively, from the Department of Health and Human Services. The Phase I grant will be used to work on an obesity treatment. The Phase II grant is earmarked toward completing work on an imaging agent.
* U.S. Bioscience Inc., of West Conshohocken, Pa., said its supplemental new drug application, filed in December for the use of Ethyol in reducing radiation-induced dry mouth, was accepted for filing by the FDA and granted priority review status.