* Amersham Pharmacia Biotech Ltd., of Uppsala, Sweden, and Green Cross Corp. (GCC), of Osaka, Japan, said Amersham's Separations business area was selected to provide media and equipment for the world's first commercial production facility for recombinant human serum albumin (rHSA). Because of the risk of contamination by HIV and other agents, and associated screening costs, alternatives are required to the use of donor blood for obtaining pure human serum albumin. Amersham will supply its Streamline expanded bed technology to GCC, and upon completion of the first stage of the facility, the production capacity will reach 12.5 metric tons of pure rHSA per year.
* BioChem Pharma Inc., of Laval, Quebec, said its licensee, Glaxo Wellcome plc, of London, filed for marketing approval in the European Union for lamivudine for chronic hepatitis B. The drug has shown positive Phase III trial results against hepatitis B. (See BioWorld Today, April 11, 1997, p. 1.)
* BioSignal Inc., of Montreal, opened a new drug screening facility and entered a major contract with Astra Research Centre Montreal (ARCM). The expanded BioSignal facility will house robotized ultra high-throughput screening, which will be used with chemical compounds for pain control developed by ARCM. BioSignal gets a $1 million research payment, with potential milestone payments as compounds are developed.
* Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., of Princeton, N.J., said the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee of the FDA recommended the agency approve Taxol (paclitaxel) injection with cisplatin for the first-line treatment of non-small cell lung cancer and for the first-line treatment of advanced ovarian cancer. The lung cancer recommendation was based on studies involving more than 3,000 patients. The ovarian cancer recommendation came after the panel reviewed results from a large, randomized Phase III trial. Taxol already was approved in the U.S. for second-line treatment of breast and ovarian cancers, and for the second-line treatment of AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma.
* Genzyme Tissue Repair, of Cambridge, Mass., reported that of the patients who showed good to excellent results two years after they were treated with their own cultured cartilage cells to repair kneed damage, 96 percent showed good to excellent results 5 to 10 years after the treatment. Carticel is made up of autologous cultured chondrocytes for use in implantation to treat knee injury. Genzyme Tissue Repair is a division of Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge.
* Neurotech SA, of Paris, and the Kennedy Krieger Institute, of Baltimore, entered a collaboration to develop cell-based gene therapies for glioblastoma, the most serious form of brain cancer. The disease's process of attracting endothelial cells to create vascularization makes it vulnerable to Neurotech's cerebral endothelial cellular vectors. Neurotech owns patents on methods of genetically modifying endothelial cells, ensuring they integrate into the target tissues and produce the required therapeutic proteins. Kennedy Krieger is a hospital, training facility and research center with more than 30 faculty members studying brain disorders.
* OraVax Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said its stockholders formally approved the sale of newly issued 6 percent convertible preferred stock to a limited group of investors. The sale of 6,300 shares, completed last December, provided gross proceeds of $6.3 million. OraVax also sold common stock providing gross proceeds of $450,000.
* SciClone Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., received approval from the Ministry of Health in Kuwait to market its lead product, Zadaxin (thymosin alpha 1), for the treatment of hepatitis B. Approvals have been granted in each of three primary areas targeted for hepatitis B sales: Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Those regions represent most of the worldwide market.
* T Cell Sciences Inc., of Needham, Mass., closed a $3.9 million private placement of about 2 million shares at $1.90 per share. Several institutional investors, including Lombard Odier Immunology Fund, of Geneva, Switzerland, and Capital Research Company, of San Francisco, purchased shares of common stock. After the placement, which was managed by Anisfield Investments Ltd., of Zurich, Switzerland, T Cell Sciences had 28.5 million shares outstanding, with about 35 percent owned by institutional investors.
* Vysis Inc., of Downers Grove, Ill., said it received registration from the Agence du Medicament to market in France the company's prenatal genetic test, the AneuVysion EC Assay, for Down syndrome and other chromosomal disorders associated with mental retardation and birth defects. The registration lets Vysis market the assay throughout Europe. Vysis' U.S. version of the product was cleared by the FDA for marketing last year.