¿ Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., updated preliminary data from European studies that show thattwice daily dosing of the HIV protease inhibitor Viracept (nelfinavir mesylate) in combination therapy produces anti-HIV effectsat 48 weeks, comparable to those resulting from standard three times daily dosing of the combination drugs. The study,conducted at 34 sites, will continue to 96 weeks.
¿ Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., started a Phase II trial of its recombinant fibroblast growth factor (rFGF-2) forthe treatment of severe coronary artery disease. The Phase II trial is a double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter studyinvolving 300 patients who remain symptomatic despite optimal medical therapy and are judged not to be candidates forangioplasty or surgery. The trial is expected to finish by early 2000. The compound, rFGF-2, is a recombinant form of anaturally occurring protein that stimulates cells and blood vessel growth.
¿ Ciba Vision Corp., of Atlanta, launched Vitravene (fomivirsen) for the treatment of cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitisin patients with AIDS. Vitravene is the first in a class of therapeutics based on an antisense mechanism to be approved in theU.S. A marketing authorization application (MAA) is currently under review in Europe. Ciba Vision is the eye care unit ofNovartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland.
¿ Cortex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., reported that its Ampakine treatment increased levels of two importantproteins required for healthy nerve cells, brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF). Ampakinesare organic chemical molecules that, in animals, have been shown to increase their ability to learn a variety of tasks commonlyused to measure memory enhancement.
¿ Evotec BioSystems AG, of Hamburg, Germany, reported it has identified a new specific molecular marker and targetfor the diagnosis and development of drugs for Alzheimer's disease. The company presented preliminary results suggesting anassociation between a protease inhibitor gene and the disease. This identified gene and its protein product may be useful targetsfor Alzheimer's disease drug discovery and development. The results were presented at the Society of Neuroscience conference,in Los Angeles.
¿ Novalon Pharmaceutical Corp., of Durham, N.C., and Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge,Mass., signed a one-year evaluation and research agreement providing Millennium with access to Novalon's BioKey assaytechnology for screening genomic targets. Novalon will identify BioKeys for a limited number of Millennium proprietary targetsand assist in the configuration into screening assays. Millennium will carry out all drug candidate screening. The BioKeytechnology uses structured libraries of more than 20 billion biopolymers to identify surrogate ligands, known as BioKeys, thatbind specifically to the functional domains of target proteins. Financial terms were not disclosed.
¿ Pharmacyclics Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., reported that nine out of the 12 patients treated with Antrinphotoangioplasty responded to treatment and showed an increase of greater than 10 percent in the blood vessel opening luminaldiameter. The Phase I trial evaluated the safety of Antrin followed by photoangioplasty in patients with severe symptomaticarterial insufficiency involving the major arteries of the lower extremities. Antrin, a water-soluble photosensitizer thataccumulates in atherosclerosis, is cleared rapidly from the blood and is activated by light, at a wavelength that is able topenetrate through blood.
¿ Pharmadigm Inc., of Salt Lake City, reported Phase II results indicating that PB005 significantly reduced the severityand duration of an asthmatic attack in 12 patients exposed to an inhaled cat dander allergen. PB005 is an injectable dose form ofdehydroepiandrosterone sulfate.
¿ Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Boulder, Colo., reported that Heptazyme, a ribozyme designed to selectivelydestroy hepatitis C virus RNA, was effective in decreasing hepatitis C viral RNA in cell culture assays. Heptazyme has thepotential to bind and cleave hepatitis C virus RNA specifically and selectively, possibly without affecting other normal,physiological processes.