* Caliper Technologies Corp., of Palo Alto, Calif., Microcosm Technologies Inc., of Raleigh, N.C., and the University of Washington, in Seattle, received a $2 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, of Arlington, Va. The funds will be used for development of computer-aided design tools for the rapid prototyping and generation of laboratory-on-a-chip systems, which miniaturize, automate and accelerate laboratory analysis.
* Celgene Corp., of Warren, N.J., reported administration of Thalomid (thalidomide) in patients with AIDS-associated weight loss increased body weight for up to six months. Weight gain was seen at every four-week interval in the study. The company plans to submit a new drug application for Thalomid in AIDS wasting. It recently received FDA approval of Thalomid for erythema nodosum leprosum.
* Cell Pathways Inc., of Horsham, Pa., started an open-label pediatric safety study of FGN-1 (exisulind) to evaluate the maximum tolerated dose and pharmacokinetics of FGN-1 in six children with adenomatous polyposis coli (APC). The two- to four-month clinical trial will take place at the Children's Hospital in Denver. Based on the results, Cell Pathways will expand the study to include 20 children throughout the U.S. FGN-1 is an orally active drug designed to induce programmed cell death in precancerous and cancerous cells. The drug is in Phase III trials for adults with APC.
* Genzyme Transgenics Corp., of Framingham, Mass., and Interferon Sciences Inc., of New Brunswick, N.J., formed a joint venture to produce human interferon alpha (IFN-a) in transgenic animals. Each company will contribute equally to development costs and will share equally in any milestone payments or other fees received. Interferon Sciences' Alferon N, which is a natural source multispecies alpha interferon, is approved in the U.S. for certain types of genital warts.
* InKine Pharmaceutical Co. Inc., of Blue Bell, Pa., said the FDA accepted its investigational new drug application (IND) for INKP-100, a patented tablet formulation of sodium phosphate, which the company intends to develop as a gastrointestinal cleansing agent prior to colonoscopy. InKine also said it started a 90-patient trial of INKP-100 to establish a safety and efficacy link between the tablet formulation used in a completed Phase II trial and the anticipated commercial formulation, which will be evaluated in a proposed Phase III study.
* InSite Vision Inc., of Alameda, Calif., said its collaborator, the University of Connecticut, in Storrs, identified two additional genes associated with primary open-angle glaucoma. One gene, GLC1D, has been linked to a form of glaucoma associated with high eye pressure; the other, GLC1E, to glaucoma patients with normal eye pressure.
* NeoTherapeutics Inc., of Irvine, Calif., reported its lead compound, Neotrofin (AIT-082, leteprinim potassium) demonstrated in animal trials it can cause nerves to regenerate after they have been destroyed by stroke or brain injury. The company said the drug appears to work by stimulating genes that produce nerve growth factors. Neotrofin is in Phase II trials for Alzheimer's disease.
* Sequus Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Menlo Park, Calif., signed a five-year, exclusive agreement with Farma-APS Produtos Farmaceuticos Limitada for marketing, sale and distribution of Amphotec in Portugal. Amphotec, a lipid-based form of amphotericin B, is used to treat progressive and potentially fatal systemic fungal infections. In Portugal, it will be sold under the trade name Amphocil.
* Structural Bioinformatics Inc., of San Diego, has created lead small-molecule non-peptide antagonists of the tumor necrosis factor receptor. The drug candidates are suitable for several inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, the company said. Structural Bioinformatics synthesized and tested 15 molecules; four were sufficiently active and specific to qualify as valid optimization candidates.
* Sugen Inc., of Redwood City., Calif., reached its first milestone with Allergan Inc., of Irvine, Calif., in its collaboration to identify, develop and commercialize angiogenesis inhibitors for treatment of ophthalmic diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. The undisclosed milestone payment was triggered by Sugen's identification and validation of the kinase receptors playing a primary role in the angiogenic component of these diseases. Angiogenesis — the sprouting of new blood vessels — is believed to be a key contributor to vision loss associated with these diseases.
* Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., started a Phase II trial with Incel (biricodar dicitrate), a multidrug resistance inhibitor, for treatment of advanced hormone-refractory prostate cancer. Incel is designed to resensitize tumor cells to treatment with chemotherapeutic agents by blocking the action of MDR-1 (multidrug resistance) and MRP (multidrug resistance associated protein) genes. Incel is in five Phase II studies in cancer.