* Boston Life Sciences Inc., of Boston, licensed from Harvard University the rights to a recently discovered gene that controls apoptosis, or programmed cell death, in T cells. The discovery of the gene, termed BCLx-gamma, was published in the November 1997 issue of the journal Immunity. When the gene is turned on following T cell activation, the T cells undergo clonal expansion and survive to fulfill their immune function. If the gene is not turned on, however, the T cells die, and no immune reaction occurs.
* Cellomics Inc., of Pittsburgh, received funding in part of a five-year project titled Combinatorial Approaches for Novel Anticancer Agents, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute Special Emphasis Panel. The company will receive about $1 million of the more than $4.2 million available under the grant. Cellomics will design and implement its High-Content Screening approaches to screen the combinatorial libraries of anticancer drugs that will be synthesized throughout the project.
* Cel-Sci Corp., of Alexandria, Va., presented data on an improved version of its HGP-30 AIDS vaccine at the 1998 Palm Springs Symposium on HIV/AIDS, in Palm Springs, Calif. The data show greater recognition than was seen before the most prevalent subtypes of the virus, and a stronger induced cellular immune response.
* Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said its lead anti-infective product, daptomycin, has shown activity against emerging drug-resistant bacterial strains, known as vancomycin intermediately susceptible Staphylococcus aureus, in in vitro studies conducted at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The company is developing daptomycin, a novel antibiotic with potent activity against all major Gram-positive bacterial pathogens, for the treatment of skin, soft tissue and urinary tract infections in hospitalized patients. Subject to FDA approval, Cubist plans to begin Phase III clinical trials late this year or early next.
* Mycogen Corp., of San Diego, granted a nonexclusive license to Axis Genetics plc, of Cambridge, U.K., for human health applications of technology to genetically alter plants to produce and deliver edible vaccines. Patents covering the technology were assigned to Washington University, of St. Louis, under an agreement through which Mycogen received exclusive rights to human and animal health applications. In return for the rights to use the technology to develop plant-based vaccines, Axis will pay annual license fees commencing immediately, plus royalties upon commercialization of edible vaccine products.
* Oncor Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., entered into a license agreement with Becton Dickinson and Co., of Franklin Lakes, N.J., for Oncor's Sunrise Detection System. Under the terms of the deal with Becton's BD Microbiology Systems division, Oncor will get license fees, royalties and milestone payments, plus sponsored research funding. BD will use the Sunrise system — in which nucleic acid reactions are performed in a closed-tube format — in future diagnostic tests.
* Techniclone Corp., of Tustin, Calif., appointed Thomas Testman interim CEO. Testman is a former partner with Ernst & Young, of San Francisco. Former Techniclone CEO Lon Stone resigned in a move to restore shareholder confidence in the company. Its stock was trading at suspiciously high volumes earlier this year at below $1 per share, and cash reserves were down. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 11, 1998, p. 1.)