* Aphton Corp., of Miami, started a Phase I/II clinical trial with Gonadimmune in patients with advanced prostate cancer in the U.K. The Gonadimmune vaccine consists of synthetic peptides that are bound chemically to a carrier and suspended in a liquid solution. The anti-gonadotropin releasing hormone shuts down testosterone, an effect that has shown to be efficacious in the treatment of prostate cancer. SmithKline Beecham plc, of London, and Aphton are jointly developing the drug.
* Atrix Laboratories Inc., of Fort Collins, Colo, received a $5 million milestone payment from Block Drug Corp., of Jersey City, N.J., for the first sale of Atridox (doxycycline hyclate, 10 percent), a gel that fights periodontal disease.
* Axys Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, adopted a share purchase rights plan under which all stockholders of record as of Oct. 28 will receive rights to purchase one one-hundredth of a share of a new series of preferred stock. The adoption is a means to protect against an abusive takeover, but is not in response to any particular takeover attempt.
* Hybridon Inc., of Milford, Mass., will enter Phase II trials with GEM 231, its advanced hybrid chemistry antisense drug for the treatment of refractory solid tumors. Phase I data was presented at Nature Biotechnology's Antisense 98 conference in London. Phase I data showed that GEM 231 significantly improved safety compared to Hybridon's first generation antisense drugs. GEM 231 targets the RI regulatory subunit of protein kinase A, which has shown to be associated with the unregulated growth of cancers and is overexpressed in many human cancer cells as well as in preliminary tumors.
* Kosan Biosciences Inc., of Burlingame, Calif., entered into a research and license agreement to develop products for the treatment of bacterial infections with the R.W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute (PRI) and Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Inc., both divisions of Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J. Kosan will use combinatorial biosynthesis technology to produce macrolide antibiotics and will receive an up-front payment, multi-year research funding, milestone payments and royalties on product sales. PRI and Ortho-McNeil, both of Raritan, N.J., received worldwide commercialization rights.
* Orchid Biocomputer Inc., of Princeton, N.J., started a $3 million program to develop a new microfluidics chip for the detection of polymorphic variations in DNA. The Gaithersburg, Md.-based Institute of Standards and Technology's Advanced Technology Program awarded Orchid a $1.9 million grant for the research and Orchid will contribute $1.1 million.
* United Biomedical Inc., of Hauppauge, N.Y., has developed a monoclonal antibody, B4, that can neutralize and resist infection, as determined by a battery of molecular, virologic and immunologic analyses of blood and lymph node samples. The results from a six-month study were presented at the 16th Symposium on Nonhuman Primate Models for AIDS, in San Antonio. Animals given B4 and treated with HIV showed no signs of HIV infection throughout the study and no significant side effects were noted.