* Anergen Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health to support development of a chemokine-based approach to the treatment of Type I diabetes. The project will test whether expression of certain chemotactic proteins correlates with the onset of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice. Anergen's Diavax diabetes program is expected to enter clinical development in 1999.
* Corvas International Inc., of San Diego, began a clinical trial in the U.S. of its proprietary parenteral anticoagulant, NAPc2. Corvas discovered and is developing the recombinant, small protein antithrombotic agent for the prevention and treatment of disorders resulting from blood clot formation. The drug will be tested for safety and efficacy in repeated subcutaneous administrations.
* Enzon Inc., of Piscataway, N.J., said its marketing partner, Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc. (RPR), of Collegeville, Pa., has expanded its license agreement to sell Enzon's Pegaspargase in the Pacific Rim. RPR currently sells the product as Oncaspar in the U.S. and Canada, and has exclusive rights for Mexico. The drug is the native enzyme L-asparaginase, modified by Enzon's proprietary polyethylene glycol technology, for the treatment of patients diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia during childhood.
* GeneMedicine Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas, disclosed positive results from a Phase I trial of alpha-1 antitrypsin gene medicine. With intranasal administration, AAT was found to be safe, and all five treated patients had increased levels of the AAT protein in nasal lavage fluid, peaking at three to five days after treatment and staying at elevated levels for at least a week. AAT deficiency, and the chronic inflammation associated with it, can lead to emphysema.