* Acacia Biosciences Inc., of Richmond, Calif., received three Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grants from the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Md., to further develop certain portions of the company's patented Genome Reporter Matrix technology, which accelerates drug discovery and development. Acacia will also use some of the grant money to study a protein that may be a critical target for future anti-cancer therapeutics.
* Cortecs plc, of London, signed a distribution agreement for Latin America with Ferrer Internacional S.A., of Barcelona, for its oral calcitonin product Macritonin. Ferrer is already Cortecs' Macritonin distribution partner in Spain. Calcitonin is used to treat post-menopausal osteoporosis.
* Elan Corp., of Dublin, reported that one of the conditions related to its planned acquisition of Neurex Corp., of Menlo Park, Calif., has been met. The condition was a meeting between Neurex and the FDA related to Neurex filing a new drug application for its chronic malignant pain medication, ziconotide. That meeting has taken place. Formerly called SNX-111, ziconotide is a synthetic peptide derived from the venom of the Conus snail. It is a neuron-specific calcium channel blocker that inhibits neurotransmitter release, preventing nerve cells from sending pain messages to the brain. Neurex stockholders are scheduled to vote on the acquisition Aug. 11.
* Hybridon Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., relocated its corporate headquarters to Milford, Mass., as part of its restructuring. (See BioWorld Today, May 6, 1998, p. 1.)
* IGEN International Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., signed on ZymoGenetics Inc., of Seattle, as the fifth "major biopharmaceutical" customer for the pre-production version of the Origen High Throughput Drug Discovery System. The second-generation system is based on the electrochemiluminescence module, a self-contained diagnostic operating system that is about one-twentieth the size of the first generation of Origen operating systems. ZymoGenetics is a subsidiary of Novo Nordisk A/S, of Bagsvaerd, Denmark.
* Palatin Technologies Inc., of Princeton, N.J., will begin a multisite Phase III trial of LeuTech, its radiolabeled antibody kit for infection imaging, in September. The company has met with the FDA to discuss the protocol of LeuTech's trials for the diagnosis of equivocal, or difficult-to-diagnose, appendicitis. Palatin expects to complete the trials in the first quarter of 1999.
* Parexel International Corp., of Boston, reported that its subsidiary, KMI/Parexel Inc. is working with officials of the Russian Federation Ministry of Health to establish a Good Manufacturing Practice program for its drug production processes. KMI/Parexel will review technical guidelines and regulations to ensure consistency with U.S., European and other international regulatory requirements and standards.
* Ribozyme Pharmaceuticals Inc. (RPI), of Boulder, Colo., and Glaxo Wellcome plc, of London, signed a genetic target validation and discovery agreement. The deal provides Glaxo with access to RPI's molecules, GeneBlocs, which allow for rapid validation of genetic targets. The agreement is with Glaxo Research and Development Ltd., and terms were not disclosed.
* Versicor Inc., of Fremont, Calif., obtained an exclusive license from Harvard Medical School for the use of GAMBIT, a novel method for identifying essential genes in bacteria. GAMBIT uses a combination of polymerase chain reaction, transposon mutagenesis and genetic footprinting. Versicor is applying GAMBIT to Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae.
* Visible Genetics Inc., of Toronto, said it has developed new long read DNA sequencing technology, known as the LongCel. Based on the company's MicroCel cassette, it can read DNA strands up to 1,000 bases long in less than three hours, with an accuracy of over 98.5 percent. The existing MicroCel technology was designed for diagnostic applications, particularly infectious diseases, and has a read length of 450 bases.
* Xenometrix Inc., of Boulder, Colo., granted a license for gene expression profiling technology to Phase-1 Molecular Toxicology Inc., of Santa Fe, N.M. The non-exclusive license covers the collection of gene expression profiles utilizing all methods, including high-density microarrays. The deal provides up-front fees and potential royalties; further terms were undisclosed.