* EpiGenesis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Durham, N.C., closed a $2.5 million private placement, arranged through Muzinich & Co. Inc., of New York. The company could receive an additional $2.5 million within two years, depending on performance. EpiGenesis plans to use the funds for development of its lead compound, Epi 2010, a respirable antisense oligonucleotide drug to reduce inflammation and bronchoconstriction. It targets the adenosine A1 receptor, a mediator of asthma "that is overexpressed in essentially every asthma patient."
* Incyte Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., extended and expanded its genomic database collaboration with Pfizer Inc., of New York. The original 1994 agreement has been extended three years, and now includes access to the LifeSeq FL database of full-length genes and the LifeSeq GeneAlbum DNA clone set, in addition to continued access to the LifeSeq gene sequence and expression database. Terms were not disclosed.
* MGI Pharma Inc., of Minneapolis, won FDA approval of Salagen Tablets (pilocarpine HCl) as a treatment for dry mouth resulting from Sjögren's syndrome. The company plans to launch sales and marketing by April 1.
* Progenitor Inc., of Menlo Park, Calif., reported the publication of research on the function of a protein linked to hereditary hemochromatosis, or iron overload disease. Approximately 85 percent of hereditary hemochromatosis patients produce a mutant form of the protein, dubbed HFE. The study was published in the Feb. 17 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.