* Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., launched a Phase II clinical study of a second-generation calcimimetic drug in patients with primary hyperparathyroidism (HPT), the first time the drug has been tested in that particular patient group. The drug, licensed from Salt Lake City-based NPS Pharmaceuticals Inc., is also in a Phase II trial in patients with secondary HPT resulting from kidney failure. Amgen has licensed rights from NPS to develop and sell calcimimetic compounds for HPT worldwide, with the exception of some Asian countries.
* Diatide Inc., of Londonderry, N.H., and Nycomed Amersham Imaging, of Princeton, N.J., have launched AcuTect, an imaging product for acute venous thrombosis in the lower extremities. Co-marketed by the two companies in the U.S., AcuTect is synthetic peptide conjugated with technetium-99m, a radioactive molecule that emits gamma radiation. The peptide binds to glycoprotein IIb/IIIa, which is only present when platelets are activated. As a result, the diagnostic targets newly developed blood clots. The product, expected to cost $350 per treatment, won FDA approval in September. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 16, 1998, p. 1.)
* Digene Corp., of Beltsville, Md., granted Tropix, of Bedford, Mass., an exclusive license for the Hybrid Capture mRNA assay for high-throughput screening in the drug-discovery and agricultural biotechnology industries. Tropix will market the technology, along with reagent kits provided by Digene, and the companies will continue their research and development collaboration to further develop the technology. Tropix is a subsidiary of Norwalk, Conn.-based Perkin Elmer Corp.
* The Dow Chemical Co., of Midland, Mich., paid $412 million to acquire San Diego-based Mycogen Corp., an agribusiness and biotechnology firm that posted 1997 revenues of $211 million. Dow has purchased via a tender offer 14.7 million shares of Mycogen Corp., representing 99.3 percent of the company on a fully diluted basis. The shares were tendered in response to Dow's offer of $28 per share, which expired Oct. 2. The purchase was made by Dow AgroSciences LLC, a Dow subsidiary in Indianapolis.
* Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, filed an accelerated-review marketing application in Canada for Panretin gel (alitretinoin) for the treatment of cutaneous lesions of patients with AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma. The application is the company's first international filing. The FDA accepted the drug, a topical formulation of 9-cis retinoic acid, for priority review last spring. (See BioWorld Today, May 28, 1998.)
* NeoTherapeutics Inc., of Irvine, Calif., said it has completed enrollment in a Phase II trial of Neotrofin (AIT-082, leteprinim potassium), used in the treatment of symptoms associated with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. Earlier tests have shown the drug enhances nerve regeneration. The Phase II trial is being conducted in collaboration with Clinical Studies Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of PhyMatrix Corp., of West Palm Beach, Fla.
* Osiris Therapeutics Inc., of Baltimore, reported research demonstrating the ability of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) — which give rise to osteoblasts — regenerate large bone defects. In preclinical animal studies, researchers noted considerable new bone formation as early as eight weeks following implantation, and by 16 weeks the new bone had undergone the normal remodeling process, conforming to the shape and dimension of the original healthy bone. Osiris plans to present the results to the FDA in preparation for clinical studies.
* Targeted Genetics Corp., of Seattle, began a multicenter Phase II trial of the anticancer drug tgDCC-E1A. The trial will be conducted in patients with recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma who have exhibited disease progression despite standard therapies. E1A is a tumor inhibitor gene.
* Vysis Inc., of San Francisco, introduced the MultiVysion PB assay, a new genetic test that can be used to identify chromosomal abnormalities in polar bodies (genetic material released by the ovum prior to, and immediately following, fertilization). The product is designed to help those who undergo in vitro fertilization avoid implantation of embryos afflicted with aneuploidy.
* 3-Dimensional Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Exton, Pa., and Merck KgaA, of Darmstadt, Germany, extended their drug-discovery collaboration for one year. In the original agreement, Merck agreed to make payments of up to $10 million, including an initial equity investment. The extension provides for an additional year of research funding.
* Xoma Corp., of Berkeley, Calif., completed enrollment in a 149-patient, randomized, placebo-controlled Phase II trial of the hu1124 monoclonal antibody in patients with moderate to severe psoriasis. The primary endpoint of the study is clinical improvement. Xoma is developing the drug in collaboration with Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco.