Aurora Biosciences Corp., of San Diego, and Systems Integration Drug Discovery Co. (SIDDCO), of Tucson, Ariz., entered into a combinatorial chemistry agreement under which SIDDCO will synthesize diverse compound libraries of up to 2.4 million discrete compounds for Aurora. These libraries, designed by SIDDCO with Aurora scientists, will be put in an ultra-high-throughput screening and pharmaco-informatics program. Aurora will provide SIDDCO with certain license and synthesis payments and will take an equity position in SIDDCO by purchase of preferred shares. The collaboration covers several years.

* Bio-Imaging Technologies Inc., of West Trenton, N.J., entered into a contract with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of New York, to provide image processing and digital image management services, supporting a Phase III study of a compound being evaluated for the treatment of acute myocardial infraction. The study will involve 750 patients enrolled in about 150 sites worldwide. The contract will last through 1999.

* Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., filed suit against Nippon Roche K.K., of Tokyo, in Tokyo District Court for alleged patent infringement. Nippon Roche markets hepatitis C polymerase chain reaction (HCV PCR) assays. Chiron cloned HCV in 1987 and since has received more than 100 HCV-related patents in more than 20 countries. Chiron is asking the Japanese court for a preliminary and permanent injunction and unspecified damages. Also, Chiron and partner Ortho McNeil Pharmaceutical Inc. launched Regranex, a biologic proven to increase the probability of complete healing in diabetic neuropathic foot ulcers. The gel was approved by the FDA in December. Its active ingredient is becaplermin, a genetically engineered platelet derived growth factor that mimics a naturally occurring protein. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 18, 1997, p. 1.)

* Dendreon Corp., of Mountain View, Calif., signed a partnership deal with Fresenius Critical Care International, a unit of Fresenius Medical Care AG, a medical services and products company based in Bad Homberg, Germany. Fresenius will market and distribute globally the DACS 300 system, developed by Dendreon, which facilitates the preparation of CD34 positive cells from peripheral blood. These cells help reconstitute a patient's immune system following chemotherapy.

* Genometrix Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas, inked an agreement with GeneMedicine Inc., also of The Woodlands, to handle multiplex screening of biological responses in mouse tumor models. Genometrix will use its technology to analyze gene expression in mice treated with GeneMedicine's cancer gene therapies. GeneMedicine said it will use the Genometrix technology to determine how treatments affect immune response, angiogenesis and signal transduction.

* Neurobiological Technologies Inc. (NTI), of Richmond, Calif., received word from the FDA that its drug Xerecept qualifies for an orphan drug classification. Xerecept is a synthetic preparation of human corticotropin-releasing factor that may control swelling in the brain caused by a tumor. NTI is currently enrolling patients in a randomized, double-blind Phase II trial to evaluate Xerecept's effectiveness. An orphan drug designation provides a company with seven years of market exclusivity after a drug is approved by the FDA. Companies are also eligible for federal funds for clinical research.

* SciClone Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., paid $1.84 million to Sclavo SpA, of Siena, Italy, to acquire rights to its marketing approval in Italy of Zadaxin (thymosin alpha 1) for use as an influenza vaccine adjunct. The agreement also gives SciClone rights to Sclavo's marketing application in Italy for Zadaxin to treat non-small cell lung cancer and to Sclavo's Zadaxin development rights in Spain and Portugal. SciClone said the acquisition of Sclavo's Zadaxin rights allows it to pursue a partnering agreement for the drug for use in combination with interferon for treatment of hepatitis C throughout Europe and the U.S.

* Sepragen Corp., of Hayward, Calif., signed a tentative deal with GoldTech Ingredients Group, of Petaluma, Calif., to use Sepragen's chromatography to isolate and purify individual proteins from whey, a milk byproduct. GoldTech will use the proteins for use in infant formula, new sport drinks and a number of fat-free, health-enhancing food products. If finalized, the deal should provide Sepragen some $3 million in revenues during the first year of operations and about $1 million annually after that. Gold Tech is a subsidiary of California Gold Dairy Products, of Petaluma.