* Ontogeny Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and Genzyme Molecular Oncology (GMO), a division of Genzyme Corp., also of Cambridge, are collaborating in a deal under which GMO will produce RNA libraries using its SAGE (Serial Analysis of Gene Expression) technology with RNA from Ontogeny. Financial terms were not disclosed. Ontogeny will use the libraries to analyze differential gene expression, processing identified genes through its OntoScreen system.
* Centocor Inc., of Malvern, Pa., said the FDA has accepted its biologics license application (BLA) for Avakine (infliximab), an antitumor necrosis factor monoclonal antibody. The FDA said the drug will receive priority review. Centocor filed the BLA late last year. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 31, 1997, p. 1.)
* Corvas International Inc., of San Diego, received notification from Pfizer Inc., of New York, that Pfizer started a Phase I trial of neutrophil inhibitory factor (NIF). The trial triggered a $1 million milestone payment to Corvas under terms of a $29 million agreement made in 1997 to commercialize NIF as a stroke therapy. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 25, 1997, p. 1.)
* Cytel Corp., of San Diego, and Glycomed Inc., of Alameda, Calif. (a wholly owned subsidiary of Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego), formed a nonexclusive licensing agreement under which Cytel will receive rights to a family of Glycomed patents relating to carbohydrate compounds for acute inflammation. The deal includes Cytel's most advanced product, Cylexin, a small molecule carbohydrate that acts as a cell adhesion inhibitor to prevent inflammation damage that occurs after blood flow is restored to tissues following surgery. Under terms of the agreement, Glycomed will get an up-front license fee of $900,000, paid in restricted Cytel stock, plus milestone payments of $1.5 million upon the first new drug application to the FDA and $3.5 million upon the first FDA approval of each licensed product. Payments may also be made, at Cytel's option, in its common stock.
* Genetix Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., licensed from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, of Boston, exclusive worldwide rights to an issued patent and subsequent divisional applications for the use of lentiviruses as gene therapy vectors. Lentiviruses make up a special class of retroviruses and include HIV-1, HIV-2 and simian immunodeficiency virus. They can be modified to deliver genes into cells, allowing long-term modification to occur. Genetix is using an engineered lentivirus as the basis for its second-generation gene transfer system, LentiPak.
* Genome Therapeutics Inc., of Waltham, Mass., reached its first formal milestone in its human genomics alliance with Schering-Plough Corp., of Madison, N.J., to discover new treatments for asthma. The milestone triggers a payment, but details were not disclosed. The two companies have several collaborations. (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 25, 1997, p. 1.)
* Hoffman-La Roche Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland, received approval from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to acquire Corange Ltd., of Hamilton, Bermuda, the parent company of Germany's Boehringer Mannheim GmbH and DuPuy Inc., of Warsaw, Ind. The FTC approved the deal on the condition that Roche not acquire a dominant position in the thrombolytics market. Roche has agreed to sell Centocor Inc., of Malvern, Pa., North American rights to Retavase, a clot-buster, for $335 million. Also as part of the FTC's approval of the merger, Roche will sell Boehringer Mannheim's line of abuse-testing drugs. The Corange acquisition was made public in May 1997, followed by Centocor's purchase of Retavase in February. (See BioWorld Today, May 28, 1997, p. 1, and Feb. 13, 1998, p. 1.)
* Human Genome Sciences Inc. (HGSI), of Rockville, Md., said Takeda Chemical Industries Inc., of Osaka, Japan, exercised its exclusive option to develop and commercialize HGSI's first product candidate, myeloid progenitor inhibitory factor 1 (MPIF-1), for the Japanese pharmaceutical market. MPIF-1, which entered clinical trials last year, is one of 23 new members of the chemokine-interleukin family that HGSI has identified and tested for therapeutic activity. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 18, 1997, p. 1.)
* Matritech Inc., of Newton, Mass., reported data comparing the sensitivity of its NuMA colon cancer test to the carcino-embryonic antigen (CEA) test. The data showed NuMA was more sensitive than the CEA test in detecting early-stage colon cancer. The findings represent the comparative portion of the company's 510(k) premarket notification to the FDA, submitted last October, for clearance of the NuMA test. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 17, 1997, p. 1.)
* SciClone Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., received government approval to market its lead drug, Zadaxin (thymosin alpha 1), in Argentina and Peru. The drug was approved initially as an influenza vaccine adjuvant in Argentina, and the company expects to expand the approval to include hepatitis B and hepatitis C by the end of this year. Zadaxin was approved in Peru for the treatment of hepatitis B.
* Select Therapeutics Inc., of Chestnut Hill, Mass., entered a license and research agreement with the Ontario Cancer Institute, of Toronto, and the University of Toronto Innovation Foundation. The subject of the deal is a treatment that uses a shiga-like toxin 1 (SLT-1), a bacterial toxin. SLT is used to selectively kill cancer cells in bone marrow that is removed from patients and transplanted back after chemotherapy treatments. Select Therapeutics' license grants it exclusive worldwide rights to the treatment in return for royalties and research support to the Ontario Cancer Institute.