* Centocor Inc., of Malvern, Pa., closed its acquisition of U.S. and Canadian product rights to Retavase (reteplase), a recombinant clot-dissolving drug for acute myocardial infarction. The company bought the drug, which has about 12 percent of the U.S. market, from Roche Healthcare Ltd., an affiliate of Roche Holding Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, for $335 million in cash. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 13, 1998, p. 1.)
* Icos Corp., of Bothell, Wash., began a Phase II, placebo-controlled clinical trial with rPAF-AH in patients undergoing endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), which is performed for either diagnostic or therapeutic reasons involving the biliary or pancreatic tracts. The drug is an enzyme that works by checking PAF, an inflammatory mediator. It may decrease the incidence and severity of post-ERCP pancreatitis. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 19, 1997, p. 1.)
* Immunex Corp., of Seattle, said moderate asthmatics reported symptomatic improvements for more than a week after a 1,500-micogram dose of the company's investigational product, Nuvance (interleukin-4 receptor). No significant toxicity was experienced, and most reported adverse events were of mild intensity. The company also reported preliminary safety results from an ongoing pediatric trial of Enbrel. The data, Immunex said, showed the drug is well tolerated by patients with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Enbrel is a protein-based drug that inhibits the binding of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) to cell surface receptors, blocking TNF's adverse biological activity. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 12, 1997, p. 1.)
* Immunomedics Inc., of Morris Plains, N.J., entered a distribution agreement with Bergen Brunswig Specialty Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Bergen Brunswig Corp., of Orange, Calif. The deal calls for Bergen Brunswig to distribute Immunomedics' colorectal cancer imaging agent, CEA-Scan. In February, Immuno-medics ended its marketing and distribution deals with St. Louis-based Mallinckrodt Inc. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 12, 1998, p. 3.)
* The National Center for Genome Resources, of Santa Fe, N.M., and the South African National Bioinformatics Institute, of Cape Town, launched the Sequence Tag Alignment and Consensus Knowledgebase (STACK), a public database of gene sequences expressed in the human genome. The database makes the increasingly large volume of gene fragment data more useful in analyzing human genes. STACK features expressed gene sequences organized according to tissue, and provides a comprehensive representation of each gene with alignments of its expressed fragments.
* NovaDx International Inc., of San Diego, said its subsidiary will change its name to Proteomix Inc., to reflect the subsidiary's focus on proteomics. The parent company's name will remain the same for now, and will continue to trade on the Vancouver Stock Exchange under the symbol NVN. Subject to shareholder approval, NovaDx's name may also change. NovaDx has developed proteomics technology for drug and diagnostics discovery based on identification of low-abundance, disease-related proteins in blood.
* PE Applied Biosystems, of Foster City, Calif., filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California against Molecular Dynamics Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., and Amersham Pharmacia Biotech Ltd., of Uppsala, Sweden, for allegedly infringing patents related to capillary electrophoresis and fluorescent scanning technologies. PE Applied Biosystems claims Molecular Dynamics' MegaBACE DNA Sequencer and its FluoroImager 565 systems incorporate technologies covered by PE's patents. Amersham is named in the lawsuit because the company also markets MegaBACE. PE Applied Biosystems is a division of Perkin-Elmer Corp., of Norwalk, Conn.
* PPL Therapeutics plc, of Edinburgh, Scotland, said its lead product, alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) has won orphan drug designation from the FDA for the treatment of cystic fibrosis. PPL is conducting Phase II trials of AAT in the U.K.
* Theragenics Corp., of Norcross, Ga., said its board of directors approved a two-for-one stock split, payable April 15 to shareholders of record March 31. After the split, the company will have about 29.1 million shares outstanding.