* Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., reported encouraging results from two Phase I studies and one preclinical study of the oral anti-angiogenesis drug AG3340. In a Phase I safety and tolerability study in patients with advanced cancers, disease was stabilized in more than 25 percent of 47 evaluable patients who were treated for periods of 16 to 40 weeks. AG3340 was found to be generally well tolerated. Based on data from the study, the company has initiated pivotal Phase II/III clinical trials in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer or advanced hormone-refractory prostate cancer. (See BioWorld Today, May 6, 1998, p. 1.) * Caliper Technologies Corp., of Palo Alto, Calif., is collaborating with scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to develop high-throughput laboratory-on-a-chip systems to perform proteomics analysis on Caliper's LabChip platform. A $1.4 million Department of Energy will aid the endeavor.
* Cel-Sci Corp., of Vienna, Va., received approval to conduct a Phase II clinical trial of its preventative HIV vaccine, HGP-30W, in the Netherlands. The study will enroll 30 healthy, HIV-negative volunteers, each of whom will receive one of three different dosages of the vaccine.
* Celsion Corp., of Columbia, Md., entered a sponsored research alliance with Duke University Medical Center to develop a family of heat-activated targeted drug delivery, gene therapy and anti-angiogenesis systems. The first major project centers on the development of heat-sensitive lipid-based microcarriers which encapsulate drugs for intravenous delivery. Celsion, formerly Cheung Laboratories Inc., owns rights to negotiate licenses of technologies developed in the collaboration with Duke, of Durham, N.C.
* Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, reported that Targretin (bexarotene) caused regression of tamoxifen-resistant breast cancer tumors in an established rat model of the disease. A retinoid class drug, Targretin added to tamoxifen caused complete or partial regression in 94 percent of tamoxifen-resistant primary breast tumors, compared to 33 percent complete or partial regression in resistant tumors that continued on high-dose tamoxifen alone.
* MedImmune Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., spent $10.25 million to secure paid-up licenses for intellectual property rights associated with Synagis (palivizumab), formerly called MEDI-493. The company will no longer owe royalty payments for the vaccine, targeted against respiratory syncytial virus and currently under review for marketing approval at the FDA.
* Oxigene Inc., of Lund, Sweden, and Boston, reported preclinical data demonstrating that combretastatin A4 phosphate, when combined with standard radiation or chemotherapy treatment, significantly enhanced tumor response in mice. Later this year, the company plans to begin Phase I trials of the drug, which targets tumor blood vessels.
* Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc., of Collegeville, Pa., and Introgen Therapeutics Inc., of Austin, Texas, joined forces with the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, also in Austin, to start a Phase II trial using adenoviral-p53 gene therapy (Ad5CMV-p53) in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. The study will enroll newly diagnosed patients with nonresectable, non-small-cell lung cancer who have not yet received chemotherapy or radiation therapy. All patients will receive radiation therapy with Ad5CMV-p53. The trial is designed to determine the feasibility of combining Ad5CMV-p53 with radiation therapy, with the goal of increasing the local tumor control rate currently achieved with radiation therapy alone.
* Schering-Plough Corp., of Madison, N.J., submitted a supplemental new drug application to the FDA seeking approval for Rebetron for chronic hepatitis C in patients with compensated liver disease previously untreated with alpha interferon therapy. Rebetron is a combination therapy consisting of Rebetol (ribavirin) capsules and Intron A (interferon alfa-2b). Schering-Plough markets Intron A and has licensed rights for oral ribavirin, a synthetic nucleoside analog, from ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Costa Mesa, Calif.
* Sugen Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., launched two new clinical studies of its angiogenesis inhibitor, SU5416, in the U.S. and Europe. A Phase I/II European trial will enroll up to 24 patients in order to evaluate safety and pharmacokinetics and to assess leakiness of tumor blood vessels as a biological marker for the angiogenic process. The U.S. study will try alternative dose regimens in up to 30 patients. SU5416 is a small-molecule inhibitor of the Flk-1/KDR receptor.
* Theratechnologies Inc., of Montreal, reported Phase I results for its growth hormone releasing factor (GRF) analogue, ThGRF 1-29, which is geared toward treating growth hormone deficiency. In the European trial, the product produced a good safety profile and demonstrated higher potency than natural GRF. The trial was conducted by Theratechnologies collaborator Beaufour Ipsen Group, of Paris.