* AtheroGenics Inc., of Norcross, Ga., received FDA approval of the investigational new drug application for AGI 1067, an orally delivered composite vascular protectant designed to reduce low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. The initial Phase I trial is a single-dose study in healthy volunteers. The company expects to follow up with multi-dose testing in patients with elevated LDL cholesterol levels in the third quarter of 1998. * ASTA Medica Aktiegesellschaft, of Berlin, filed a complaint against Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. ASTA is seeking a variety of remedies related to a dispute involving a 1989 agreement among Biogen, ASTA and Bioferon Biochemisch Substanzen GmbH & Co. Under that agreement, ASTA was granted an exclusive license for a number of European countries to intellectual property relating to recombinant beta interferon. Biogen later terminated the agreement based on "ASTA's conduct and failure to perform." ASTA contends the termination is invalid.
* Cadus Pharmacuetical Corp., of Tarrytown, N.Y., exercised an option to issue and sell $5 million of its stock to London-based SmithKline Beecham plc. The option stems from a five-year functional genomics collaboration the two companies signed in February 1997. The purchase consists of 660,962 shares of Cadus common stock at a price of approximately $7.56 per share. With this equity investment, Cadus has $42.5 million in cash.
* Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., reported that Edward Penhoet, the company's departing CEO, will become dean of the School of Public Health at the University of California at Berkeley. Penhoet will continue to serve as a Chiron board member and as a special advisor to new CEO Sean Lance.
* Exact Laboratories Inc., of Maynard, Mass., is seeking to enroll 2,000 patients in a clinical trial of its DNA-based colorectal cancer screening technology. The company is conducting the trial with assistance from the Mayo Clinic, of Rochester, Minn.
* Igen International Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., has lined up a third advance customer for its Origen High Throughput Drug Discovery System, which is based on the electrochemiluminescence module. Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., joined Pfizer Inc., of New York, and Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., in requesting delivery of the system prior to full roll out. Delivery of the pre-production models is expected this fall.
* Integra LifeSciences Corp., of Plainsboro, N.J., will conduct a one-for-two reverse stock split of outstanding common stock, reducing the total from 30 million shares to 15 million. The split applies to shareholders of record as of May 22.
* NitroMed Inc., of Bedford, Mass., released preclinical data demonstrating that nitric oxide enhancement of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) significantly reduces gastrointestinal toxicity without compromising the anti-inflammatory and analgesic profiles of the NSAIDs. NitroMed is developing NSAIDs under an alliance with the R.W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute and Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, both subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J. The company expects to launch clinical trials of a nitric-oxide-enhanced NSAID within the next 12 months.
* Pentose Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., reported preclinical data showing Inactine is active against all major classes of contaminating viruses. Designed to eliminate viral pathogens in blood products and biopharmaceuticals, Inactine compounds selectively bind and irreversibly modify nucleic acids. The company also reported data from international clinical trials of PEN203, the company's topical antiviral human papillomavirus (HPV) therapy. In trials involving more than 150 patients, PEN203 demonstrated a clinically significant reduction and eradication of all HPV-associated warts. Thirty-six percent of treated patients had complete clearance of lesions vs. 6 percent for placebo patients.
* Schering-Plough Corp., of Madison, N.J., announced results from two pivotal Phase III studies showing that a combination of Intron A (interferon alfa-2b) and Rebetol (ribavirin) capsules was significantly more active than Intron A alone in achieving sustained eradication of detectable hepatitis C in treatment-naive patients. Schering-Plough licensed rights to oral ribavirin for hepatitis C from ICN Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Costa Mesa, Calif.
* Sequitur Inc., of Natick, Mass., and Inex Pharmaceuticals Corp., of Vancouver, British Columbia, signed a multi-year research collaboration to combine elements of their technologies in development of gene-based drugs. The agreement will follow two research directions. The first will be to use Inex's antisense and intracellular drug delivery technologies with Sequitur's antisense chemistry and its functional genomics program. The second will be to evaluate new compounds derived from Sequitur's protein expression technology, which produces protein expression in the interior of targeted cells.