* Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., completed the final step in acquiring 100 percent of the outstanding shares of International Murex Technologies Corp., of Toronto. Murex develops and markets products for detection of infectious diseases. The takeover, valued at $234 million was disclosed in March. (See BioWorld Today, March 18, 1998, p. 1.)
* BioTransplant Inc., of Charlestown, Mass., received clearance from the FDA for its investigational new drug application (IND) to begin a Phase I/II study to evaluate the AlloMune System in kidney transplant patients. AlloMune facilitates transplants of mismatched kidneys without the use of chronic immunosuppressive drugs. The system involves mixing bone marrow from the patient and a donor to create chimeric bone marrow, causing the newly differentiated T cells to become specifically tolerant to the donor antigens and regard them as self rather than as foreign.
* Metabolex Inc., of Hayward, Calif., raised more than $8 million through a fourth round of private financing in order to further research into the molecular mechanisms underlying Type II diabetes. The lead investor was Lombard Odier & Cie, of Zurich, Switzerland. Other participants were Banca della Svizzera Italiana, of Lugano, Switzerland, and unnamed New York investors.
* NeXstar Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Boulder, Colo., started a third Phase II trial for MiKasome, its liposomal formulation of the antibiotic amikacin. The trial will be conducted on 40 ventilator-assisted patients with nosocomial (hospital-acquired) pneumonia in at least five sites in the U.S. Outcomes monitored will include the overall safety and bacteriologic efficacy of the two dosing regimes as well as improvement of clinical symptoms while in treatment.
* Theratechnologies Inc., of Montreal, received authorization from Health Canada's Medical Devices Bureau to begin clinical validation of its photodynamic treatment for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia. The process involves withdrawing bone marrow or peripheral blood from cancer patients and saturating the cancerous cells with TH 9402, a molecule that destroys tumor cells when light activated. The ex vivo photodynamic purging process is classified as a device, not as a drug or biological product.
* Vical Inc., of San Diego, began a Phase I/II clinical trial to study an experimental DNA vaccine for patients with metastatic melanoma. The vaccine contains a gene that may cause cells at the injection site to produce a modified gp100 melanoma antigen. Earlier studies tested a vaccine using peptides (portions of the modified antigen) in combination with interleukin-2.
* ZymeTx Inc., of Oklahoma City, signed a definitive licensing agreement with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, also of Oklahoma City, for technology that may offer a new method of treatment for HIV. ZymeTx acquired worldwide rights to a family of compounds that has shown a reduction of HIV in laboratory tests. The lead compound, ZX-0851, now in preclinical testing, is believed to act by modifying HIV RNA and interfering with the virus's ability to replicate.