* Acacia Biosciences Inc., of Richmond, Calif., signed an agreement with Madison, N.J.-based American Home Products Corp. subsidiary American Cyanamid Co. to use Acacia's Genome Reporter Matrix technology to select and optimize lead compounds for crop protection products. Financial terms were not disclosed.
* Aquila Biopharmaceuticals Inc., of Worcester, Mass., began a Phase II trial of its lead product, Quilimmune-P, for prevention of pneumococcal infections in older patients. Quilimmune contains polysaccharide antigens from 23 Streptococcus pneumoniae strains and Aquila's Stimulon adjuvant, QS-21.
* Cytogen Corp., of Princeton, N.J., said its subsidiary, Targon Corp., formed a collaboration with the Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Durham, N.C., to study anti-cancer drugs. Targon will support the research with $3.75 million over three years. Targon will have an option to license products and technology funded by the company at Duke and will have right of first review on other cancer therapy inventions made at the university during the collaboration.
* DepoTech Corp., of San Diego, said it submitted a marketing authorization application to the European Medicines Evaluation Agency for Savedar, a liposomal form of cytarabine, for treatment of neoplastic meningitis from solid tumors. The drug, called DepoCyt in the U.S. and developed with Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., was rejected by an FDA advisory panel in December 1997. If approved in Europe, Savedar will be marketed by Pharmacia & Upjohn, of London.
* Glyko Biomedical Ltd., of Novato, Calif., reported that BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc., also of Novato, has initiated a 12-patient trial of Glyko's recombinant a-L-iduronidase for mucopolysaccharidosis I. BioMarin is a privately held company in which Glyko owns a 40 percent stake.
* SciClone Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., said the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare has authorized the start of a Phase III trial of the company's hepatitis B drug, Zadaxin (thymosin alpha 1). Zadaxin is being developed in Japan with SciClone's partner, Schering-Plough K.K., a subsidiary of Schering-Plough Corp., of Madison, N.J. The pivotal study will involve 300 patients with chronic hepatitis B.
* Antex Biologics Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., received a second milestone payment of $150,000 from Pasteur Merieux Connaught for a developmental vaccine against ear infections caused by Hemophilus influenzae (nontypeable). Results of a Phase Ia trial in adults "were encouraging and showed that the vaccine warrants further study," the company said. Phase Ib trials in children under 16 are ongoing.
* Aurora Biosciences Corp., of San Diego, sublicensed to Merck & Co., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., high-throughput screening technology developed by SIBIA Neurosciences Inc., of La Jolla, Calif. Merck will use SIBIA's technology in conjunction with Aurora's. Under a cross-licensing agreement between SIBIA and Aurora, each company has limited rights to use and sublicense certain of the other's patents and assay technologies.
* bioMerieux Vitek Inc., of Hazelwood, Mo., exercised its option to expand a 1996 bacteriology agreement with Affymetrix Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., to include the development of clinical diagnostics using Affymetrix GeneChip probe arrays. The new products will be designed to detect sequence variations in the HIV genome. The companies' agreement, whose terms were undisclosed, also includes the development of new diagnostic genotyping tests to detect microbial contamination of food and cosmetic products.
* Genome Therapeutics Inc., of Waltham, Mass., joined forces with Massachusetts General Hospital and Tufts University to identify and characterize the gene that causes a disorder associated with low levels of high density lipoproteins (HDL) in the bloodstream and premature heart disease. Genome Therapeutics will have exclusive commercial rights to results of the collaboration. Terms were undisclosed. Massachusetts General is based in Boston, and Tufts University in Medford, Mass.