* Cybergenetics Inc., of Pittsburgh, Pa., received a two-year, $750,000 Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Md., to continue development of its fully automated TrueAllele genetic analysis software. The technology is designed to eliminate conventional manual editing of genetic data and streamline the gene discovery process by automating data-scoring.
* Insmed Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Richmond, Va., reported that its lead compound, INS-1, is effective in getting women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) to ovulate. PCOS is an endocrine disorder that produces an imbalance in women's hormone levels. The failure to ovulate is one of the most common symptoms. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 44 obese women with PCOS showed that 86 percent of those treated with INS-1 had ovulated compared to 27 percent in the placebo group. INS-1 is a small, carbohydrate-based molecule.
* The Institute for Diagnostic Research, of Branford, Conn., started developing assays to better screen patients for clinical trials and help launch new drugs. The selected assays will be based on the drug targets of the institute's pharmaceutical sponsors. The Institute for Diagnostic Research is an affiliate of the privately held Institutes for Pharmaceutical Discovery.
* Introgen Therapeutics Inc., of Austin, Texas, negotiated an exclusive option to license from the Imperial Cancer Research Technology Ltd. (ICRT), of London, the tumor suppressor gene PTEN for use in gene therapy treating cancer. Introgen will use PTEN with its adenovirus-mediated gene delivery system to treat prostate and brain cancer patients. The ICRT, the technology development and licensing arm of London's Imperial Cancer Research Fund, will receive an undisclosed payment. If Introgen exercises its option, ICRT also will receive research funding and milestone and royalty payments.
* Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y., and Pharmacopeia Inc., of Princeton, N.J., are collaborating to discover small molecule HIV therapeutics that block the attachment of the virus to CD4, its primary cellular receptor. Such inhibitors might be effective in slowing or stopping viral infection and disease. No terms were released. Progenics also reported that its lead cancer vaccine, GMK, induced antibodies that killed cancer cells in vaccinated patients. In a Phase I/II study, 95 percent of the 52 malignant melanoma patients who received the GMK vaccine produced anti-GM2 antibodies that killed melanoma cells. The GMK vaccine stimulates the immune system to control or destroy residual cancer cells by inducing antibodies to GM2 ganglioside, a cancer antigen found in the majority of melanoma cells.