* Aphios Corp., of Woburn, Mass., received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop a therapeutic HIV vaccine.
* Avi Biopharma Inc., of Portland, Ore., completed an agreement for the exclusive worldwide license to five issued patents, six pending patent applications and one provisional patent application from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The patents cover applications in the fields of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Avi Biopharma formerly was known as AntiVirals Inc.
* Cepheid Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., received a $750,000 Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant to work on a portable, high-speed PCR thermal cycler. The instrument is supposed to alert military personnel to the existence of pathogenic agents in the field. The grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and sponsored by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.
* Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., reported that Proleukin (aldesleukin) was approved in South Korea for treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma. Proleukin, a recombinant form of interleukin-2, is approved in 46 countries. Hyup Jin Corp., of Seoul, will exclusively distribute and market Proleukin in South Korea.
* Collagen Corp., of Palo Alto, Calif., said stockholders approved the spin-off of Cohesion Technologies Inc. in a one-for-one distribution of common stock. Shares of Cohesion will trade on Nasdaq under the symbol CSONV. Collagen also said it has changed its name to Collagen Aesthetics Inc. The Nasdaq symbol will remain CGEN.
* Dendreon Corp., of Mountain View, Calif., and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, in New York, signed a licensing agreement for the use of the Ludwig Institute's NY-ESO-1 antigen in Dendreon's dendritic cell therapy. The antigen is expressed in several cancer cells, including breast, bladder, prostate, ovary and lung, as well as melanomas. Dendreon's platform can isolate and subsequently activate peripheral blood dendritic cells, from which the company can generate therapeutic agents for several cancers and infectious diseases.
* Ilex Oncology Inc., of San Antonio, completed the enrollment of a Phase III trial for Campath-1H for the potential treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Campath-1H is being developed with LeukoSite Inc., of Cambridge, Mass. About 20 centers in the U.S. and Europe are participating in the trials, which will assess the safety of Campath. If successful, a biologics license application is expected to be filed by mid-1999. Campath is a humanized monoclonal antibody.
* Neurex Corp., of Menlo Park, Calif., and Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, reported that Neurex's stockholders approved the two companies' merger at its annual stockholders meeting. The merger should close on Aug. 14, and Neurex will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Elan. (See BioWorld Today, April 30, 1998, p. 1.)
* Pharmacopeia Inc., of Princeton, N.J., received additional funding from Berlex Laboratories Inc., of Wayne, N.J., and N.V. Organon, of Oss, the Netherlands, to pursue chemical optimization of more lead compounds identified by Pharmacopeia in its individual collaborations with these two companies.
* Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y., received $2.7 million from the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Md., to continue clinical evaluation of PRO 542 and other related therapies for the treatment of HIV infection. The funding comes from a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases grant. PRO 542 is a fusion protein that incorporates the HIV-binding region of the cell surface receptor (CD4) into a human antibody molecule. PRO 542, currently in several dose-escalation Phase I/II trials, is designed to bind to the gp120 protein on the HIV envelope and neutralize the virus.
* SmithKline Beecham plc, of London, said the FDA approved its Engerix-B hepatitis B vaccine for use in patients with chronic hepatitis C infection. The Engerix-B vaccine was developed in collaboration with Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., which receives royalties from SmithKline.
* Sonus Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Seattle, started two Phase II studies with EchoGen (perflenapent injectable emulsion). One trial will investigate EchoGen in the measurement of left ventricular volumes by three-dimensional echocardiography; the other will evaluate EchoGen for use in patients with chest pain in emergency rooms. EchoGen is a stable liquid emulsion designed to improve ultrasound images.
* Cytoclonal Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Dallas, acquired an exclusive license for the worldwide rights to breast cancer peptide inhibitors developed at the University of California at Los Angeles. The technology targets estrogen receptors, which are present in three-quarters of all breast cancer cases. The peptides block estrogen receptors without increasing the risk of endometrial and liver cancer.
* Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., licensed its patents covering immune stimulation by phosphorothioate oligonucleotides (S-oligos) to CpG ImmunoPharmaceuticals Inc., of Wellesley, Mass. The agreement grants CpG exclusive worldwide rights to the methods and applications covered by U.S. patent Nos. 5,663,153 and 5,723,335 and related patent applications, except for antisense therapeutic claims. Isis will receive a licensing fee, a portion of sublicensing revenues relating to the technology and an equity position in CpG.
* Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said shareholders of Seragen Inc., of Hopkinton, Mass., approved their company's merger with Ligand. In the takeover, Ligand paid $30 million — $4 million in cash and $26 million in the form of approximately 1,858,000 Ligand shares at $13.987 per share.
* RiboGene Inc., of Hayward, Calif., and EnzyMed Inc., of Iowa City, Iowa, entered an infectious disease drug discovery collaboration using RiboGene's translational control of gene expression and EnzyMed's combinatorial biocatalysis and lead optimization. Compounds resulting from the collaboration will be jointly owned and developed.