* Aurora Biosciences Corp., of San Diego, sublicensed SIBIA Neurosciences Inc.'s transcription-based assay technology to Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, for use in conjunction with Aurora's drug screening technologies. La Jolla, Calif.-based SIBIA will receive up-front and annual maintenance payments, as well as future royalities. 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 asasy technologies.
* Integra LifeSciences Corp., of Plainsboro, N.J., extended a licensing and distribution agreement with Johnson & Johnson, covering a percutaneous infection control device. Terms were not disclosed.
* Emisphere Technologies Inc., of Hawthorne, N.Y., and Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, wrapped Phase I trials of oral heparin on a positive note. In two separate studies, the companies found various formulations and dosing regimens to be well tolerated, with one study showing dose-dependent increases in clotting times well within the therapeutic range for heparin. Elan is exercising warrants for 250,000 common shares in Emisphere at $16.25 per share, yielding $4 million for Emisphere.
* Geron Corp., of Menlo Park, Calif., and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, in Dallas, successfully extended the lifespan of normal human cells using the enzyme telomerase. Results were published in the Jan. 16, 1998, issue of Science. According to the company, telomerase is an "immortalizing" enzyme that imparts replicative immortality when expressed in reproductive and cancer cells. The gene for the telomerase protein was recently isolated by Geron and collaborators at the University of Colorado, in Boulder.
* Maxim Pharmaceuticals, of San Diego, reported positive interim safety data from a Phase I trial for Maxamine in combination with Intron A (interferon-alpha) in chronic hepatitis C patients characterized as non-responders to previous interferon treatment. Maxim plans to launch a 240-patient Phase II hepatitis C trial in the spring. Also currently in cancer trials, Maxamine is a histamine type-2 receptor agonist that inhibits production and release of free oxygen radicals, thereby protecting NK cells and T cells.
* Oncormed Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., will provide p53 pharmacogenomic services to the Schering-Plough Research Institute, of Kenilworth, N.J., for clinical trials of rAd/p53 gene therapy, which uses a geneticallly engineered adenovirus to provide normal p53 function to tumor cells deficient in p53 tumor suppressor activity. Oncormed will identify patients with a missing or defective p53 gene who may be appropriate candidates for the trials.
* SUGEN Inc., of Redwood City, Calif., initiated the first of several pivotal studies of SU101. The 380-patient, 20-site study seeks to establish efficacy in first relapse glioblastoma multiforme patients by comparing SU101 to Procarbazine, the most commonly used chemotherapeutic in BCNU-refractory brain tumor patients. Survival is the primary endpoint, with time to disease progression, objective response rates and quality of life serving as secondary endpoints. SU101 is a platelet-derived growth factor receptor inhibitor.