* BioTransplant Inc., of Charlestown, Mass., and MedImmune Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., received encouraging safety and pharmacokinetic results on MEDI-507 to prevent and treat tissue graft rejection in several transplant settings. The results came from a 13-patient Phase I trial. MEDI-507 is derived from BTI-322 a murine monoclonal antibody.
* Biovector Therapeutics SA, of Toulouse, France, a company involved with drug delivery systems for vaccines and genes, licensed DNA delivery technology from the National Institutes of Health. Completion of the licensing agreement was important to the company's plans for an initial public offering later this year, Biovector said.
* Chromagen Inc., of San Diego, signed a drug discovery agreement with CombiChem Inc., of San Diego, to focus on two undisclosed therapeutic targets. Chromagen will receive an up-front payment and fees for assay development and screening of compound libraries. After identifying lead candidates that are ready for development, CombiChem will outlicense them to third parties.
* Maxim Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, said preclinical study results show the induction of specific mucosal immunity within the female reproductive tract can be used in the fight sexually transmitted diseases. The antibody responses were induced in the genital tract mucosa and systemically.
* NeuroVir Inc., of Vancouver, British Columbia, started Phase I clinical trials for G207, a genetically engineered herpes simplex virus (HSV), that may possibly be used in malignant brain tumor therapy. G207 replicates selectively in tumor cells, kills them and then spreads throughout the tumor without harming healthy cells. It kills tumor cells that are resistant to radiation and chemotherapy and, by spreading cell to cell in the tumor, may reduce tumor burden. G207 is the first tumor-killing HSV to enter human studies. The trials, conducted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, will evaluate the safety of G207 in patients with recurrent glioblastoma, a local, aggressive brain tumor that is difficult to remove surgically.
* Oncor Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., reported that a second preclinical study in the evaluation of prostate cancer shows the use of HER-2/neu gene amplification is promising as a molecular marker. HER-2/neu is a cancer-causing gene that codes for a growth factor receptor protein. Currently, Oncor's INFORM HER-2/neu Gene Detection System is approved as a prognostic index in breast cancer. A patent application has been filed for use of a technology to detect HER-2/neu gene amplification associated with prostate cancer. A clinical trial to demonstrate the correlation between the INFORM HER-2neu test and the risk for recurrence in prostate cancer, should start in the third quarter of this year.