* Anika Therapeutics Inc., of Woburn, Mass., and Zimmer Inc., of Warsaw, Ind., have amended their agreement for sales, marketing and distribution of Orthovisc to include European countries, Scandinavia and Latin America. Orthovisc is a naturally derived hyaluronic acid product, designed to restore the elasticity and viscosity of the synovial fluid in joints. Under terms of the amendment, Anika could receive licensing payments of up to $3.5 million, contingent upon achievement of milestones. Included in that amount is a $1.5 million up-front payment. Zimmer is a wholly owned subsidiary of New York-based Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

* Argonex Inc., of Charlottesville, Va., raised $7.5 million in a private financing to advance programs in antigen identification for the development of immunotherapeutic vaccines. The lead investor was Healthcare Ventures LLC, of Cambridge, Mass. Argonex's key technology is DIRECT (Direct Identification of Relevant Epitopes for Clinical Therapeutics), which combines mass spectrometry with immunology to enable the rapid identification of tumor-specific antigens.

* ArQule Inc., of Medford, Mass., and Genome Therapeutics Corp., of Waltham, Mass., will collaborate to discover new drugs to combat bacterial and fungal diseases. ArQule will screen its chemical libraries against bacterial and fungal genetic targets identified by Genome Therapeutics.

* Axys Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, Calif., filed an investigational new drug (IND) application with the FDA for a dry powder inhaler (DPI) formulation of APC-366, its lead asthma product. This new formulation will enter a Phase IIb study later this year. APC-366 is a serine protease inhibitor that counteracts the activity of tryptase, which is an enzyme involved in the asthma disease pathway. Axys' partner in its asthma program, Bayer AG, of Leverkusen, Germany, is developing an oral version of the tryptase inhibitor. Bayer said it will discontinue work on its inhaled tryptase inhibitor in favor of Axys' product.

* Cadus Pharmaceutical Corp., of Tarrytown, N.Y., accepted the first high-throughput pharmacology system (HT-PS) from Axiom Biotechnologies Inc., of San Diego, Calif. As a result, Cadus will purchase an additional $2 million of Axiom preferred stock. Cadus will now own 30 percent of Axiom on an as-converted basis. The HT-PS measures the immediate physiological responses of natural or genetically engineered human cells and automates the process of assessing the pharmacological properties of potential therapeutic compounds identified through the screening.

* Cel-Sci Corp., of Alexandria, Va., reported that improved versions of it s HGP-30 vaccine against HIV show greater recognition of the most prevalent subtypes of the virus, covering more than 90 percent of the world's AIDS cases. In mice, new adjuvants improved recognition of some HIV subtypes and increased by two- to four-fold the levels of antibody isotypes used as surrogate markers for cellular immune response.

* Cortex Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Irvine, Calif., reported data from an ongoing dose-escalation safety trial of Ampalex in patients with schizophrenia. "Patients receiving the drug exhibited improvements in performance on tests of verbal learning and memory, problem solving, distractibility and finger tapping," Donald Goff, principal investigator, reported at the 1998 Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, in Toronto. The first compound in the ampakine class to be administered to humans, Ampalex is currently the subject of three physician-sponsored clinical safety trials.

* Cytel Corp., of San Diego, opened a 10,000-square-foot manufacturing facility for its lead therapeutic product, Cylexin, along with other carbohydrate products. Cylexin is currently in Phase II/III clinical trials for the treatment of reperfusion injury in infants undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass surgery during the surgical repair of heart defects. Enrollment is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

* EnzyMed Inc., of Iowa City, Iowa, signed a three-year collaboration agreement with Novartis Crop Protection AG, a division of Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland. EnzyMed will provide Novartis with compound libraries based on combinatorial biocatalysis technology. Novartis will screen the libraries, with EnzyMed granted first option to perform lead optimization services on all active hits. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

* Idec Pharmaceuticals Corp., of San Diego, said the European Union has granted marketing approval for MabThera (rituximab) — approved and marketed in the U.S. under the name Rituxan — for the treatment of relapsed or chemoresistant follicular B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, will market the drug in Europe. In the U.S., Rituxan is partnered with Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, under a copromotion agreement. Roche is the majority stockholder in Genentech.

* Pangaea Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and Pasteur Merieux Connaught, of Lyon, France, entered into an agreement where Pasteur Merieux will have access to Pangaea's epitope discovery technologies and Epiquest database. Pasteur Merieux Connaught is part of the Rhone-Poulenc Group, of Paris. The deal allows Pasteur Merieux to accelerate the development and evaluation of vaccine targets for a specific organism. Pangaea infects target cells and then isolates and sequences the infectious agent epitopes that are on the cell's surface. By comparing the normal and infected cells, resarchers can find the epitopes that induce a potent immune response.

* Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd., of Palo Alto, Calif. said that its shares no longer will be traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol, SLXs; instead it will now be traded as SLX.

No Comments