* Acacia Biosciences Inc., of Richmond, Calif., and DuPont Agricultural Enterprise, of Wilmington, Del., a division of DuPont & Co., also of Wilmington, Del., signed a profiling agreement to use Acacia's Genome Reporter Matrix (GRM) to help select and optimize lead compounds for use in crop protection. Acacia will provide chemical and biological profiles on a class of DuPont compounds. The GRM, an assay-based computer-modeling system, can profile the extent, nature and quality of any changes in gene expression induced by a compound.
* Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New Haven, Conn., presented data showing that IG2, a new drug candidate, stops the development of Type 1 diabetes in two different animal models. IG2 is an immunoregulatory compound.
* Anergen Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., reported that its functional genomics vaccine, DiavaX, stimulates antibodies that target the interaction of autoreactive white blood cells in autoimmunity and protects diabetes-prone non-obese diabetic mice from the onset and progression of diabetes. DiavaX contains a specific synthetic peptide that stimulates production of antibodies that block immune activation, which may prevent the onset of diabetes Type I. Phase I trials will be started within a year.
* Cell Therapeutics Inc., of Seattle, and the City of Hope National Medical Center, in Los Angeles, identified a gene encoding an enzyme that may play a role in the loss of pancreatic islet cell function, a hallmark of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, according to a study presented at the American Diabetes Association's scientific session in Chicago. The gene encodes the enzyme leukocyte 12-lipoxygenase. The research may provide a molecular target that could lead to the development of new drugs or gene therapy approaches to prevent or treat the disease.
* CelTrix Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., reported that preliminary Phase II data show SomatoKine, the company's IGF-BP3 complex, helped to restore muscle tissue in patients with severe burns. The Phase II feasibility study should be completed by the end of the year, with Phase III trials in burn patients set to begin in 1999. SomatoKine is the recombinant equivalent of the natural complex formed by the anabolic hormone insulin-like growth factor-I and its major binding protein (BP3).
* Ekos Corp., of Bothell, Wash., raised more than $10 million by completing a Series B financing. The money will fund operations through European commercialization of its therapeutic ultrasound systems and early clinical testing in the U.S. Two new investors, Bessemer Ventures and Prism Venture Partners, both of Boston, participated in the financing. Other investors were The Spray Venture Fund, of Boston; Weiss, Peck and Greer Venture Partners LLC, of New York; MedVenture Associates, of Orinda, Calif.; Technology Partners, of Cambridge, Mass.; and ARCH Venture Partners LP, of Chicago.
* ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., of New York, acquired Vuab, a manufacturing and research facility located in Prague, in the Czech Republic. Vuab has two main product lines: finished forms of human drugs, such as injectable antibiotics and infusion solutions, and pharmaceutical raw materials (ephedrine and nystatin).
* Insmed Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Richmond, Va., reported that the company's lead compound, INS-1, produces ovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), an endocrine disorder that produces an imbalance in women's hormone levels. The absence of ovulation, related to increases in insulin and testosterone levels, is the most common symptom of PCOS. In the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study involving 44 obese women with PCOS, 86 percent of those treated with INS-1 ovulated, compared to 27 percent of those in the placebo group.
* Pharmacopeia Inc., of Princeton, N.J., completed an acquisition of the predictive modeling software designer Molecular Simulations Inc. (MSI), of San Diego, worth approximately $130 million. Under terms of the takeover, Pharmacopeia agreed to acquire all of MSI's outstanding stock for about 7 million newly issued shares of Pharmacopeia stock, and to convert outstanding MSI options into Pharmacopeia options, potentially resulting in the issuance of 1.5 million more new Pharmacopeia shares. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 5, 1998, p. 1.)
* Sparta Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Horsham, Pa., said the Nasdaq trading symbols for the company have returned to their original SPTA, SPTAU, SPTAW, SPTAZ and SPTAL.