* Allergenics Inc., of Cincinnati, and Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., signed a collaboration agreement to evaluate and possibly develop certain infectious disease vaccines using Allergenics' proprietary oral delivery system. The first two vaccines under evaluation are an oral tetanus booster and a vaccine against Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that causes gastritis and ulcers and has been implicated in stomach cancer.
* Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., expanded its cardiovascular gene therapy program through two new agreements with St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, in Boston, and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore. Both collaborations involve development of gene therapies to treat occlusive vascular disease, or blockage of the blood vessels of the heart and legs. The programs will focus on research to exploit natural mechanisms to keep surgically cleared arteries from becoming blocked and to enhance the body's native ability to grow new blood vessels.
* Hyal Pharmaceutical Corp., of Mississauga, Ontario, said its lead product, Solarase, was approved for marketing in Canada. The product is a topical gel formulation to treat actinic keratosis, which are precancerous skin lesions caused by sun exposure that affect one out of every six persons worldwide. A small number of these lesions will turn into squamus cell carcinoma, a malignant skin disease. Hyal intends to submit a new drug application for Solarse with the FDA in the third quarter of this year.
* LaJolla Pharmaceutical Co., of San Diego, reached a key milestone by developing a multikilogram commercial-scale manufacturing process for LJP 394, its lupus drug candidate. LJP 394 is in Phase II/III trials in more than 40 centers in the U.S. The drug is designed to reduce levels of antibodies to double-stranded DNA. La Jolla is developing LJP 394 with Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill.
* LJL BioSystems Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., started shipping Analyst, the company's product for high-throughput screening, to customers. Analyst is designed to perform multiple assays to speed drug discovery and lower costs. It is capable of reading 96-well and 384-well plate formats, and the company said the system can perform 5 million to 10 million assays per year.
* Mycogen Corp., of San Diego, said a California Superior Court judge denied motions by Monsanto Co., of St. Louis, seeking a new trial or modifications to a March jury verdict awarding Mycogen $174.9 million in damages. The verdict was based on findings Monsanto delayed fulfilling a contract to license Mycogen crop enhancement technology. Mycogen's damage claim involved projected lost profits and market share for its seeds business caused by lack of access to Monsanto's insect-resistance and glyphosate herbicide tolerance technologies.
* NeoTherapeutics Inc., of Irvine, Calif., reported that its lead product candidate, AIT-082, (Neotrofin) stimulated nerve regeneration in tissue cultures and in animals. AIT-082 is currently in clinical trials for treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Preclinical studies showed treatment of hippocampal neurons with AIT-082 caused nerve outgrowth and enhanced branching of the nerve processes. Hippocampal neurons are thought to be involved in memory function. AIT-082 incorporates the chemical structure features of hypoxanthine, the only purine that passes the blood-brain barrier, and procainamide, a drug marketed for cardiac arrhythmias that has memory-enhancing activity. Findings revealed that after four days of treatment with AIT-082, regrowth of damaged neurons was seen.
* Techniclone Corp., of Tustin, Calif. will be solely responsible for the development and clinical testing of the Tumor Necrosis Therapy (TNT) technology that was part of a co-development joint venture with Cambridge Antibody Technology Ltd. (CAT), of Cambridge, U.K. Details of the deal's restructuring are not final, but Techniclone will continue to fund the clinical trials while CAT will maintain an economic interest in the TNT program should it be marketed. TNT is a radiolabeled chimeric monoclonal antibody currently in Phase I trials for malignant glioma, or brain cancer.