* Aurora Biosciences Corp., of San Diego, received a Small Business Innovation Research Phase I grant for $100,000 from the National Cancer Institute to develop methods for identification of immunomodulatory agents using its GenomeScreen technology.
* Axys Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, started a Phase I, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the safety and absorption of a single dose of a topically administered cream formulation of APC 2059 in 20 healthy persons in the treatment of psoriasis. APC 2059 is a member of a class of compounds designed to inhibit the enzyme tryptase, which has been demonstrated to be involved in inflammatory diseases, such as psoriasis.
* Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., received orphan drug status for Proleukin (aldesleukin) for injection, a recombinant form of interleukin-2 (IL-2), for the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and acute myelogenous leukemia. Proleukin is approved in the U.S. for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma and malignant metastatic melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Chiron is currently designing a Phase III study for patients with HIV-associated non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
* CombiChem Inc., of San Diego, signed a drug discovery collaboration with Ono Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Osaka, Japan. CombiChem will work with Ono to generate lead drug candidates for a target of interest to Ono, in exchange for a project initiation fee, research support and milestone payments. Ono has exclusive global rights to develop and market or sublicense products resulting from the collaboration. CombiChem is entitled to royalties on sales of products resulting from the research.
* Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., filed an investigational new drug application to start Phase III trials for intravenous daptomycin, its antibiotic to combat life-threatening infections. The trials will evaluate the safety and efficacy of daptomycin, a lipopeptide antibiotic, in patients with complicated skin and soft tissue infections due to Gram-positive bacteria.
* CV Therapeutics Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., received a $4.5 million milestone payment, in the form of a loan, from Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass. The milestone was paid for the final study report form an early Phase II study of Adentri (CVT-124), which was jointly conducted by the two companies. Adentri, an adenosine A1 blocker, is being developed by Biogen for the potential treatment of congestive heart failure under a license from CV Therapeutics. The loan is repayable in common stock or cash, or to the extent available out of royalties owed by Biogen to CV.
* Gen-Probe Inc., of San Diego, reached an agreement with the American Red Cross to provide, in conjunction with Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., a new investigational, semi-automated amplified DNA probe test to help detect hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV RNAs in pooled samples of human plasma from blood donations. The investigational test may help to detect directly the genetic material of viruses such as HCV and HIV, instead of testing for antibodies, like most of the current tests.
* GeneLink Inc., of Margate, N.J., said it will enter the online "DNA banking business" so that consumers can order its non-invasive DNA Collection Kit on its website. The kit allows families the ability to preserve their family medical history for generations.
* Gensia Sicor Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., the wholly owned subsidiary of Gensia Sicor Inc., of Irvine, Calif., received approval of its abbreviated new drug application from the FDA for cytarabine for injection, to be used in combination with other approved anticancer agents for the remission induction of acute non-lymphocytic leukemia in adults and pediatric patients, and as a treatment of acute lymphocytic leukemia and the blast phase of chronic myelocytic leukemia.
* Hoechst Marion Roussel Inc. (HMR), of Frankfurt, Germany, and Quintiles Transnational Corp., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., completed Quintiles' acquisition of substantial assets of HMR's Kansas City-based Drug Innovation and Approval facility and the opening of a contract research facility in Kansas City. The transaction guarantees Quintiles revenues of $436 million over five years for continued support and completion of ongoing HMR development projects. HMR will also offer Quintiles the opportunity to provide all U.S. outsourcing services, up to an additional $144 million, over the same period and will grant Quintiles preferred status as a contract research organization partner.
* Idun Pharmaceuticals Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., obtained an exclusive, worldwide license from Washington University, in St. Louis, to therapeutic applications of technology relating to protein transduction, or the delivery of proteins into cells. The company believes the technology may be adapted for killing cells infected with a variety of pathogens that depend on a pathogen-specific protease for replications.
* Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, received net proceeds of more than $12.5 million from institutional investors who elected to exercise early their warrants to purchase some 2.27 million shares of common stock before the end of the year. The warrants were issued through a 1995 public offering of 3.25 million units at $10 each, which included one share of callable common stock of Allergan Ligand Retinoid Therapeutics Inc., and two warrants to purchase Ligand common stock at an exercise price of $7.12.
* Protein Polymer Technologies Inc., of San Diego, requested FDA authorization to begin testing of its urethral bulking agent for treatment of female stress urinary incontinence. Pending approval, it expects to begin trials in the second quarter of 1999.