* CV Therapeutics Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., reported Phase II trial results indicating the adenosine A1 receptor blocker CVT-124 preserved glomerular filtration rate (GFR, a measure of renal function) while increasing sodium and urine excretion in congestive heart failure (CHF) patients. The 12-patient, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase II trial studied the effect of a single intravenous dose of CVT-124 and furosemide on GFR, the rate at which the kidney filters blood. In patients with moderate and moderately severe CHF, CVT-124 maintained GFR as compared to placebo.
* Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, completed the acquisition of GWC Health Inc., the parent company of Cedar Knolls, N.J.-based Carnrick Laboratories Inc., for $150 million in a combination of cash and a promissory note. Founded in 1899, Carnrick's major product is Skelaxin, indicated for the relief of acute painful musculoskeletal conditions. The company will now become a subsidiary of Elan. (See BioWorld Today, April 30, 1998, p. 1.)
* EntreMed Inc., of Rockville, Md., said scientist Bjorn Olsen has described the crystal structure of the company's endostatin therapeutic protein for cancer. EntreMed has signed a sponsored research agreement with Cambridge, Mass-based Harvard Medical School to fund the work of Olsen, who led the project, until 2001.
* GeneMedicine Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas, reported Phase I trial results showing its interleukin-2 (IL-2) gene therapy was safe and well-tolerated at all dose levels in patients with head and neck cancer. The trials also provided evidence that the product expressed the IL-2 protein for several days in the treated tumors. Data from the study, along with preclinical work involving interferon-alpha and interleukin-12 gene therapies, were presented at the First Annual Meeting of the American Society of Gene Therapy, in Seattle. GeneMedicine uses a cationic lipid method of gene delivery.
* Genetix Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., reported that a gene therapy delivered to bone marrow in mice with cancer succeeded in expressing the angiogenesis-inhibiting proteins angiostatin and endostatin.
* Kimeragen Inc., of Newtown, Pa., reported that its chimeraplasty gene repair technique successfully corrected 25 percent of afflicted liver cells in hemophiliac dogs. Kimeragen's method involves combining a desirable sequence of DNA with RNA to form a chimeraplast. These molecules can be administered intravenously, and will bind selectively to the portion of target DNA to be modified. Once bound, the chimeraplast activates a naturally occurring gene-correcting mechanism, which modifies the DNA at the target site.
* Nabi, of Boca Raton, Fla., acquired exclusive worldwide rights from the University of Maryland, in Rockville, Md., to its ring expanded nucleoside (RENs) and ring expanded nucleotide (RENt) technologies. The technologies synthesize nucleoside and nucleotide analogs with potential antiviral, antimicrobial and antitumor activity. Several of the analogs made so far have shown significant activity against hepatitis B and HIV.
* North American Vaccine Inc., of Beltsville, Md., received positive results from two clinical trials of its polysaccharide conjugate vaccine against group C meningococcal infections. In Phase II trials, the vaccine was judged safe and immunogenic, and induced bactericidal activity and high avidity antibodies in both adults and infants.
* OraVax Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said it is developing a technology platform for a new family of vaccines, called ChimeriVax, which is based on genetically engineered derivatives of the yellow fever 17D vaccine. ChimeriVax vaccines will target viruses that are genetically related to yellow fever, such as Japanese encephalitis, dengue, tick-borne encephalitis and hepatitis C. OraVax is conducting preclinical trials of a hepatitis C vaccine using the ChimeriVax technology.
* SciClone Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., said a Phase III trial in Taiwan demonstrated that Zadaxin (thymosin alpha 1) is effective and safe in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B. The drug produced a statistically significant increase in conversion of hepatitis B virus from positive to negative, and hepatitis B e antigen from positive to negative. Liver histology was significantly improved as well.
* SmithKline Beecham plc, of London, said its Lymerix (recombinant OspA) Lyme disease vaccine was recommended for approval by the FDA's Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. The vaccine uses an antigenic protein, called outer surface protein A (OspA) from Borrelia bergdorferi, the tick-borne bacteria that cause Lyme disease.