* Aviron, of Mountain View, Calif., said preliminary analysis of the final year of a two-year study of FluMist showed the intranasal influenza vaccine protected against culture-confirmed influenza. Final data should be presented in September. Aviron submitted a marketing application to the FDA for FluMist in July. The company also reported a $750,000 Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant for development of a live attenuated vaccine for diseases caused by cytomegalovirus.
* Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York, reported that Haystack, an automated storage, retrieval and sample preparation system for high-throughput drug discovery, is operating at its Wallingford, Conn., research facility. Built by Automation Partnership, of Cambridge, U.K., Haystack can prepare samples for up to 100,000 screening tests per day. BMS bought the build-to-order system for approximately $10 million.
* Ilex Oncology Inc., of San Antonio, Texas, is enrolling patients in a Phase III trial of alpha-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), its anticancer agent for the prevention of non-melanoma skin cancer. DFMO is a selective irreversible inhibitor of an enzyme. It controls formation of certain polyamines needed by dividing cells, like cancerous ones. The trial, the first Phase III of DFMO as a chemoprevention agent to stop cancer recurrence, will include 340 patients with a history or either basal cell or squamous cell cancer.
* Kosan Biosciences Inc., of Burlingame, Calif., received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Cancer Institute for research into the epothilone gene cluster from its mycobacterial host. Epothilone is a polyketide that inhibits cancer cell proliferation by a mechanism similar to that of Taxol, but also is effective against Taxol-resistant cells. Taxol (paclitaxel) is marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York, for ovarian and breast cancer.
* La Jolla Pharmaceutical Co., of San Diego, completed laboratory testing of what it describes as a "new, fivefold more potent" Toleragen candidate to stop production of antibodies responsible for hyperacute rejection in xenotransplantation. Toleragen, based on La Jolla's Tolerance technology, inactivates B cells that produce antibodies against transplanted organs without affecting other protective functions of the immune system. The company said laboratory "studies showed the new Toleragen molecule inhibited human and primate pathogenic antibodies more potently than the first generation Toleragen.
* ProtoMed Inc., of San Diego, received a $740,871 Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to fund a Phase I/II trial of BBIC, a serine protease inhibitor, for ulcerative colitis. The funds also will be used to determine if the drug has any anti-inflammatory effects in Crohn's disease.
* Oncogene Science Diagnostics Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., presented data showing its immunodiagnostic assay for HER-2/neu may play a role in guiding therapy for treatment of breast cancer in patients whose tumors overexpress the HER-2/neu oncogene. HER-2/neu is a growth factor receptor overexpressed in 30 to 50 percent of metastatic breast cancer patients, and this over-expression correlates with a poor prognosis. Oncogene Science Diagnostics is a wholly owned subsidiary of OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Uniondale, N.Y.