* Discovery Laboratories Inc., of Doylestown, Pa., said it successfully completed a Phase Ib study of ST-630 for postmenopausal osteoporosis. ST-630 is a vitamin D analogue. The company said preclinical studies showed it is more potent than "calcitriol in facilitating intestinal calcium absorption and promoting bone calcium mobilization." In the Phase Ib study, the drug was given to postmenopausal women with osteoporosis and non-osteoporotic younger women volunteers. No incidence of transient or persistent hypercalcemia was reported, and the postmenopausal women were more sensitive to the drug.
* Millenium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., reported two gene discoveries, one linked to central nervous system (CNS) disorders and the other to obesity. The latter is the second gene discovered in collaboration with Roche Holding Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, to be targeted for drug development. The gene implicated in CNS disorders regulates ion channel activity in the brain and was discovered in collaboration with American Home Products Corp., of Madison, N.J. Both discoveries resulted in undisclosed milestone payments to Millenium.
* Monsanto Co., of St. Louis, agreed to purchase Cargill Inc.'s international seed operations in Central and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa for $1.4 billion. Cargill is Minneapolis-based international seed company specializing in sales of corn, rapeseed, sunflower, soybean, alfalfa, sorghum, wheat and rice seeds. In June, Monsanto agreed to a proposed merger with American Home Products Corp., of Madison, N.J., in a stock swap valued at $33 billion. (See BioWorld Today, June 2, 1998, p. 1.)
* NeoPharm Inc., of Bannockburn, Ill., said it has achieved production of significant quantities of interleukin-13 PE38QQR chimeric exotoxin (IL-13) to continue development of the product for treatment of kidney and brain cancers. The company said IL-13 has demonstrated it can "eradicate" kidney cancer and severe brain cancer in both test-tube and animal-model experiments.