* Aurora Biosciences Corp., of San Diego, entered a collaboration with Cytovia Inc., of Irvine, Calif., to conduct screening programs to identify new drug leads for cancer and degenerative diseases. Cytovia will receive rights to develop and commercialize any new drug candidates found and Aurora will receive fees from Cytovia for compound access and screening services as well as milestone payments and product royalties. Aurora also will make an undisclosed equity investment in Cytovia.
* BioChem Pharma Inc., of Laval, Quebec, reported the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia issued an order granting BioChem Pharma's motion for a stay of the patent infringement lawsuit filed against it and Glaxo Wellcome plc, of London, by Emory University, of Atlanta. The case involves 3TC, an HIV drug developed by BioChem and sold by Glaxo. The court ruling postpones the litigation until the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reviews its declaration of an interference between Emory's patent and BioChem's pending patent application.
* Endorex Corp., of Chicago, was notified by the FDA that its cancer drug, ImmTher, received orphan drug status for treatment of osteosarcoma, a bone cancer in children and young adults. The drug currently is in a Phase II trial using ImmTher as adjuvant therapy following surgery and intensive chemotherapy to prevent cancer recurrence. ImmTher is a macrophage activator derived from muramyl dipeptide, a naturally occurring component of bacterial cell walls that stimulates a patient's immune system.
* Icos Corp., of Bothell, Wash., started a multidose Phase II trial for Hu23F2G with about 50 multiple sclerosis patients experiencing acute exacerbations. Neurological improvement is the primary endpoint. Improvement in brain abnormalities as measured by magnetic resonance imaging after treatment is a secondary endpoint. Hu23F2G is a recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody.
* ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New York, will receive $16.5 million from Schering-Plough Corp., of Madison, N.J., for full rights to market ICN's oral ribavirin for treatment of hepatitis C in Europe. ICN retains rights to all other forms of ribavarin (Virazole) and indications. Ribavirin is a synthetic nucleoside analog with broad-spectrum antiviral activity.
* The March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, of White Plains, N.Y., gave a $719,460, three-year research grant to Huntington Willard, chairman of the department of genetics at Case Western Reserve University, of Cleveland, Ohio, to develop an efficient vector (delivery system) for gene therapy. Willard will construct artificial chromosomes for use as vectors. The grant expands the March of Dimes' $23 million annual research program to include gene therapy.
* RiboGene Inc., of Hayward, Calif., received a $96,000 Small Business Innovation Research Phase I grant to continue development of therapeutics for treating fungal infections. The company has identified a target to attack fungi and will use the grant to accelerate development and initiate screening.
* Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, started multicenter Phase II trials of CeaVac cancer vaccine for colorectal cancer and of TriAb cancer vaccine in breast cancer. Both are randomized and placebo-controlled with about 200 patients per study. CeaVac is designed to generate immune responses to CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen), which is expressed in a variety of cancers. TriAb is directed against the HMFG tumor associated antigen.
* Xoma Corp., of Berkeley, Calif., licensed all of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Incyte Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s patents and patent applications relating to BPI (bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein), a human host-defense protein. Xoma is developing a pipeline of pharmaceutical products with BPI. In return for the license, which gives Xoma worldwide ownership of BPI, Incyte will receive royalties on related product sales and warrants to purchase 240,000 Xoma shares at $6 per share.