* ImmuLogic Pharmaceutical Corp., of Waltham, Mass., has started a Phase I study of its cocaine vaccine product. Thirty cocaine-abstinent patients living in a residential treatment facility will be evaluated for the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, which is designed to induce specific antibodies that bind cocaine in the bloodstream and limit the amount that can enter the brain. The vaccine resulted in a reduction of drug-seeking behaviors in animals. The study is funded in part by a $2.2 million award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
* LXR Biotechnology Inc., of Richmond, Calif. said its anti-apoptotic drug, Elirex (LXRO15-2), suppresses heart damage by inhibiting transmission of "death signals" in heart muscle cells. A preclinical study showed a 53 percent reduction in heart damage when Elirex was injected after prolonged blockage of coronary blood flow in comparison with controls.
* Matritech Inc., of Newton, Mass., reached an agreement on marketing and product purchase terms for the Matritech NMP22 test kit for bladder cancer in Spain and Portugal with Organon Teknika, the Barcelona, Spain-based subsidiary of Organon Teknika, of Durham, N.C. The NMP22 test is an enzyme immunoassay that finds a nuclear matrix protein in human epithelial cells. The majority of bladder cancer patients release large quantities of this NMP into their urine. Organon Teknika is a subsidiary of Akzo Nobel N.V., of Arnhem, the Netherlands.
* Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y., published study results showing its lead HIV product illustrated potent viral activity in mice infected with the virus. The product is Pro 542, an antibody-like molecule that selectively targets HIV and prevents the virus from infecting healthy immune system cells. Two Phase I/II trials of Pro 542 in HIV-infected patients are currently under way. The report was published in the April issue of the Journal of Virology.
* Quintiles Transnational Corp., of Research Triangle Park, N.C., opened a combined clinical trials central laboratory and product distribution center in Singapore. Called Quintiles Laboratories, East Asia, the facility will serve pharmaceutical and biotechnology customers developing products in the Asia-Pacific region for submission to regulatory authorities worldwide.
* Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and Columbia University, of New York, released a study that showed that the SR-BI receptor is the key molecule inducing the selective uptake of HDL or "good" cholesterol in the liver. The finding, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' April issue, suggests that this validation of the SR-BI role may be a factor in development of new treatments for coronary artery disease.
* PowderJect Pharmaceuticals plc, of Oxford, U.K., received positive results from a Phase I trial with its needleless, pain-free alprostadil product for the treatment of male impotence. The results of the placebo-controlled trial conducted on 10 healthy volunteers showed drug-related mild to moderate erections in all subjects, with erections that were observed within 10 to 15 minutes following dosage and lasted 1.5 to 2 hours. The PowderJect device delivers dry powder formulations through the skin by accelerating the particles within a helium gas jet. The company also purchased from Oxford Asymmetry International plc, of Abingdon, U.K, an equity stake in a joint venture with PharmaSciences Inc., of West Conshohocken, Pa., for development of low-cost, high-quality alprostadil, the active ingredient in many impotence therapies.