* Advanced Polymer Systems Inc. (APS), of Redwood City, Calif., said its partner, Dermik Laboratories Inc., of Collegeville, Pa., has begun Phase III studies of a product containing Microsponge-entrapped 5-fluorouracil for the treatment of actinic keratosis, a precancerous skin condition. The formula uses APS' Microsponge to deliver the drug with reduced irritation. Dermik is a subsidiary of Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc., also of Collegeville.
* Ergo Science Corp., of Boston, received a $10 million equity investment from Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J., as part of their collaboration for products to treat Type II diabetes and obesity. A new drug application for Ergo's lead product, Ergoset (bromocriptine mesylate tablet), was accepted for filing by the FDA in October 1997, and the company is preparing for an FDA advisory panel meeting slated for May. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 25, 1998, p. 1.)
* Osiris Therapeutics Inc. and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (JHU), both of Baltimore, have been awarded a joint research grant to explore a new approach to treating patients with myasthenia gravis. The goal is to combine technology designed by Osiris involving a patient's own mesenchymal stem cells with a treatment approach pioneered at JHU to induce specific immunity against certain white blood cells (T cells) that play a pivotal role in the disease.
* Pathogenesis Corp., of Seattle, received a $100,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The grant will support research into anti-tuberculosis agents. Pathogenesis has two drug candidates in Phase II clinical trials for tuberculosis: PA-1648, an oral drug; and TOBI (tobramcyin solution for inhalation).
* Targeted Genetics Corp., of Seattle, and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) entered into a collaborative research agreement to study the potential for targeted gene transfer to liver tissue and other tissue sites in vivo, using recombinant adeno-associated viral (rAAV) and non-viral gene delivery systems. Targeted Genetics will provide rAAV and non-viral vectors for a research team at NHLBI. Liposomes developed by Targeted Genetics are among the vectors to be evaluated.