* Aurora Biosciences Corp., of San Diego, completed a demonstration of the prototype subsystems for Module 2 of its Ultra-high Throughput Screening System platform for Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis. Aurora intends to deliver Module 2 production subsystems to Lilly in the first half of the year.
*Ontogen Corp., of San Diego, and Irori, of LaJolla, Calif., a subsidiary of Discovery Partners International, signed a deal covering Ontogen's two patents related to the RF tagging of chemical libraries. The assignment agreement gives Irori exclusive rights to U.S. Patent No. 5,770,455, as well as one other allowed and pending parent patent application. Ontogen retains commercial rights to use the technologies internally. RF technology entails labeling individual members of a combinatorial synthesis library with unique identification tags that facilitate elucidation of the structure of the library members synthesized. Financial terms were not disclosed.
* Oxis Therapeutics Inc., of Portland, Ore., reported initial results from the Phase IIa trial of BXT-51072 in patients with mild to moderate ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease. BXT-51072 is a small molecule that mimics the action of a natural antioxidant enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, thereby blocking the activity of free radicals. Free radicals are the toxic molecules believes to be involved in the damage evidenced in these inflammatory diseases. Results from the ongoing trial showed that, when administered orally, the drug was well absorbed, with no serious adverse treatment-related events, except for two patients, who developed rashes. A statistically significant reduction in disease activity, as measured by the mean colitis activity index, was seen at 28 days when compared to baseline.
* RiboGene Inc., of Hayward, Calif., completed a $5 million working capital loan from Venture Banking Group, a division of Cupertino National Bank, of Palo Alto, Calif. The $5 million note is due in three years, with interest only payments made during the terms of the note. RiboGene will use the funding for working capital purposes as well as possible acquisition of new products. The company now has $30 million in cash. The loan was arranged by Reedland Capital Partners, of San Francisco.
* SciClone Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., reported that Zadaxin (thymosin alpha 1) was approved for the treatment of hepatitis B and hepatitis C in Venezuela. The company also recently filed a marketing application for Zadaxin for hepatitis B in New Zealand. To date, SciClone has 15 approvals for Zadaxin, and anticipates earning another 25 or more.