* Abgenix Inc., a subsidiary of Freemont, Calif.-based Cell Genesys Inc., expanded its research license and option agreement with Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco. Under the new agreement, Genentech will use Abgenix's XenoMouse technology to generate fully human antibodies to a second undisclosed antigen target in the area of cardiovascular research. Abgenix will receive undisclosed research funding and, if Genentech exercises its option, the company could receive license fees and milestone payments plus royalties on future product sales.
* Aviron Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., and CSL Limited, of Victoria, Australia, will collaborate on development, sale and distribution of FluMist, Aviron's intranasal influenza vaccine, in Australia, New Zealand, and parts of the South Pacific. The two companies jointly will carry out additional trials in Australia for FluMist. Terms were not disclosed.
* CoCensys Inc., of Irvine, Calif., started a Phase II trial with a tablet formulation of ganaxolone in migraine patients. Ganaxolone is a synthetic version of naturally occurring neuroactive compounds called epalons. A previous Phase II trial showed that ganaxolone produced therapeutic activity in migraine patients. The 20-site study will enroll 300 patients, with the primary endpoint being the efficacy of ganaxolone in relieving pain of moderate to severe migraine headaches.
* Coulter Pharmaceutical Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., began a Phase II multicenter investigational trial in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients treated previously with Bexxar. In this trial, patients who participated in earlier trials but relapsed will have another chance to receive the drug. Bexxar is a monoclonal antibody conjugated to a radioisotope.
* Diatide Inc., of Londonderry, N.H., received a priority classification from the FDA on its new drug application for P829, an imaging device that detects malignant lung tumors. The priority status means the FDA will rule on the application within six months. P829, an injectable medical imaging agent made up of a small-molecule synthetic peptide and technetium-99m, is designed to determine whether a tumor is malignant without requiring a biopsy or lung surgery.
* Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, discovered progestins that may have clinical advantages over current steroidal progestin therapies, which most often are used in hormone replacement therapy and birth control. Ligand said (S)-LG120746 and (S)-LG120747, non-steroidal progestin compounds, show protective activity in the uterus without stimulating breast-cell growth.
* Oncor Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., improved its cash position by $4 million with the sale of its research products division and cash infusions from directors and a major shareholder. The division, which had sales of $3 million in 1997, was sold to Intergen Co., of Purchase, N.Y., for $3.2 million. The directors' and shareholder credit support of $1 million was added to the firm's existing bank line of credit. With the money, Oncor can support its operations at least through the third quarter of this year.
* Vyrex Corp., of La Jolla, Calif., granted Invitrogen Corp., of San Diego, an exclusive worldwide license to market a line of products that use the universal epitope, Vyrex's reading frame independent epitope tagging technology. Invitrogen will market products containing Vyrex's universal DNA, universal epitope or antibodies that recognize the epitope. The epitope tagging technology employs a DNA sequence (the universal DNA) that encodes the same polypeptide in all three reading frames (the universal epitope), eliminating the need for full sequence characterization and reading frame determination.