* ArQule Inc., of Medford, Mass., said it amended its agreement with Roche Bioscience, of Palo Alto, Calif. Under the collaboration, now in its third year, ArQule will provide Roche with screening libraries while continuing lead optimization on a number of Roche compounds. Financial terms were not disclosed. Roche Bioscience is a research division of Roche Holding Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland.
* Cell Therapeutics Inc., of Seattle, began a Phase I trial of its lead supportive care oncology agent, lisofylline, in patients receiving combined radiation and chemotherapy to treat advanced head and neck cancers. The drug is being developed to prevent or reduce mucositis, which is the breakdown of epithelial cells lining the the mouth and gastrointestinal tract. Lisofylline also is being investigated to reduce infections and treatment-related mortality among cancer patients receiving radiation and/or chemotherapy.
* Discovery Laboratories Inc., of Doylestown, Pa., said the FDA designated its Surfaxin therapy as a fast-track product for the treatment of meconium aspiration syndrome, caused by contaminated amniotic fluid taken into the lungs by the fetus. Surfaxin synethetically mimics natural human surfactant, which washes the interior of the lungs.
* Endogen Inc., of Woburn, Mass., was awarded a $230,000 Phase II grant from the Small Business Innovation Research Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The grant will support development of a complete panel of cytokine ELISAs for pig health monitoring, and the investigation of recombinant porcine cytokines as vaccine adjuvants. They will be marketed as research-use-only products.
* Genetronics Biomedical Inc., of San Diego, began a preclinical study of its needle-contact Electroporation Therapy on large animals. The study is investigating toxicity and side effects following electroporation of the prostate. It is the final step before a Phase I clinical trial to treat patients with prostate cancer who have failed standard therapy.
* Megabios Corp., of Burlingame, Calif., said GR213487B, its gene-based therapeutic for cystic fibrosis, revealed no evidence of inflammation and satisfied all safety parameters studied in a Phase I/II clinical trial. The drug uses an aerosol plasmid delivery platform to deliver the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator gene to nasal passages of patients. It is being developed in a partnership with Glaxo Wellcome plc, of London.
* Vivus Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., said its Muse (alprostadil) let 70 percent of men studied with severe impotence achieve an erection sufficient for intercourse. Of these men, 57 percent reported successful sexual intercourse during home treatment. All 384 patients had undergone radical prostatectomy at least three months before study entry, and had identified the surgery as the cause of their erectile dysfunction.