o EntreMed Inc., of Rockville, Md., signed a contract with Covance Biotechnology Services Inc., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., to provide Good Manufacturing Practices production of Endostatin protein for further preclinical and early clinical studies. Endostatin protein, a naturally occurring fragment of collagen XVIII, has been shown to inhibit the growth of metastatic and primary cancerous tumors with no drug resistance or toxicity noted in preclinical studies.
o Gliatech Inc., of Cleveland, began Phase I trials with GT 2331, its first drug candidate, which is a selective histamine H3 receptor antagonist and which may be useful in central nervous system disorders involving disturbances in arousal or cognitive function.
o MitoKor Inc., of San Diego, signed a collaborative research and development agreement with Pfizer Inc., of New York, for the discovery and development of mitochondrial targets and drugs for neurodegenerative diseases. Terms were not disclosed.
o Neurobiological Technologies Inc., of Richmond, Calif., started a Phase IIB trial to evaluate Memantine as a treatment for painful peripheral diabetic neuropathy. The 375-person, 22-site trial will evaluate Memantine in relieving chronic pain due to peripheral neuropathy or nerve damage, particularly when it interferes with sleep. Mematine is an orally available compound that appears to restore the function of impaired neurons by modulating activity of the NMDA receptor, integral to the membranes of such cells. Merz & Co. GmbH, of Frankfurt, is co-developing Mematine.
o North American Vaccine, of Columbia, Md., reported that its former president, Sharon Mates, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court, District of Maryland, against two of the company's directors and BioChem Pharma Inc., of Quebec, a principal shareholder. Mates is seeking injunctive relief to prevent North American Vaccine from raising $25 million through a private placement of 4.5 percent convertible secured notes, as well as injunctive relief against the company relating to Mates' access to company books and records and to her continued service as a director, declaratory relief regarding her termination of employment and removal as president, as well as claims alleging abusive discharge and defamation. Actual and punitive damages in unspecified amounts are being sought. The company stated it intends to defend against the litigation.
o Procept Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and Pacific Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, signed a letter of intent contemplating the merger of Pacific into Procept. The deal would convert each Pacific share into about 0.12 Procept shares; entail a $7.3 million obligation for Procept in connection with a Pacific subsidiary, BG Development Corp.; and provide, in exchange for Pacific preferred shareholders' waiver of certain liquidation rights, the shareholders' receipt of certain contractual rights.
o SciClone Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., said a pilot Phase II clinical trial of Zadaxin (thymosin alpha 1), in combination with two nucleoside analogues, lamivudine and famciclovir, showed the elimination of hepatitis B viral replication in 64 percent of patients. The trial, like an earlier one, was conducted in Hong Kong SAR, China. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 5, 1998, p. 1.)
o SkyePharma plc, of London, and DepoTech Corp., of San Diego, have signed a definitive agreement for SkyePharma to acquire DepoTech. The acquisition, announced Oct. 19, includes a stock and equity purchase of about $30.7 million. The deal's total worth is estimated at $54 million. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 20, 1998, p. 1.)