* Cel-Sci Corp., of Vienna, Va., extended its cooperative research and development agreement with the U.S. Naval Research Institute, in Bethesda, Md., to develop a malaria vaccine. The agreement was extended due to promising initial results in animal testing. Cel-Sci is using its ligand epitope antigen presentation system (LEAPS) technology, which combines T cell binding ligands with small, disease-associated peptide antigens.
* Circe Biomedical Inc., of Lexington, Mass., received clearance from the FDA to start a multicenter, controlled and randomized Phase II/III trial of HepatAssist Liver Support System for patients suffering from acute liver failure. The HepatAssist liver support system is an extracorporeal, bioartificial liver using pig liver cells to temporarily provide essential liver functions.
* Cytel Corp., of San Diego, signed an exclusive sublicensing agreement with Elan International Services Ltd., a subsidiary of Elan Corp. plc, of Athlone, Ireland, granting it rights to a patent involving the use of antibodies that block VLA-4 integrin for the treatment of inflammatory conditions. Elan also has the option to enter into a non-exclusive sublicense for patent rights to other VLA-4 blocking compounds. Elan made an up-front $4 million equity investment and also will pay undisclosed milestone and royalty payments.
* Desmos Inc., of San Diego, renewed its relationship with Baxter Healthcare Corp., of Deerfield, Ill., to explore approaches to improving the biocompatibility of percutaneous implants used in renal therapy. The new biocoating being developed will create a biological seal around the entry site, reducing infections and implant instability. It is based on Desmos' technology using laminin-5, a protein that plays a key role in epithelial cell attachment and proliferation.
* Hyseq Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., discovered a new interleukin-1 gene, IL-1Hy273, and the protein it produces. Hyseq, which believes the protein may have applications in treating inflammatory diseases, is researching its potential ability to disrupt the process of inflammation in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
* Techniclone Corp., of Tustin, Calif., will sell two buildings that house its corporate headquarters and operations for research and development, clinical trials and manufacturing. The company agreed to a 10-year leaseback of the property with two additional five-year options to renew. Techniclone bought the facilities in 1996 and 1997 for $3 million. It said proceeds of the buildings' sale, which are substantially more than the original purchase price, will be used to retire the first $1.9 million mortgage on the buildings, pay back a short-term loan of $2.3 million for working capital and fund upgrades to the manufacturing facility.