* Cadus Pharmaceutical Corp., of Tarrytown, N.Y., signed a sponsored-research agreement and license agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to support biorobotics research aimed at developing a novel drug discovery system called Living Chip. Cadus will combine its yeast-based drug discovery assays with the microbotics systems expertise of Ian Hunter, an MIT professor. Cadus's goal is a disposable, inexpensive, CD-sized screening tool that would accomodate more than 100,000 cell-based assays on a single chip.
* Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., won an FDA license to market Proleukin in a new indication, metastatic melanoma. Proleukin is an injectable recombinant form of the naturally occurring immunostimulatory interleukin-2, and is currenlty licensed for metastatic renal cell carcinoma in the U.S., Europe and Canada. The product last month earned the unanimous recommendation of an FDA advisory committee. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 29, 1997, p. 1.)
* Chrysalis International Corp., of Raritan, N.J., inked a genomics-based transgenic research contract with Pfizer Inc., of New York. Pfizer will use Chrysalis's molecular biology and transgenic animal science technologies to identify therapeutic targets based on new genomics information. The two-year initial research collaboration involves "significant" funding from Pfizer. Chrysalis has produced more than 5,500 transgenic mouse and rat lines from some 1,100 gene constructs.
* Copernicus Gene Systems Inc., of Cleveland, completed its initial round of venture capital financing, raising $4.6 million from a syndicate led by Biotechnology Development Fund, of Palo Alto, Calif. Other investors were GeneChem Associates, of Research Triangle, N.C., Nina Kung Wang's Veron International, of Hong Kong, and the Ariane Health LDC fund, in conjuction with Muzinich & Co., of New York. The company is pursuing preclinical development of gene therapy products for familial hypercholesterolemias and hemophilia, and expects to receive a series of patents in the first half of 1998.
* GeneMedicine Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas, will not conduct a planned Phase I trial of insulin-like growth factor-I, formerly under development for diabetic motor neuropathy. The company received FDA clearance to conduct the trial in January 1997, but no patients were ever enrolled. GeneMedicine cited "restrictive criteria placed on the patients' qualifications for enrollment in the trial and the company's assessment of the relative market opportunities for the product." Preclinical studies to find other indications are under way.
* Innovir Laboratories Inc., of New York, received a $2 million investment from majority owner VIMRX Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Wilmington, Del., with a commitment to invest an additional $5 million in equity at Innovir's request.
* Molecular Dynamics Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., and Amersham Pharmacia Biotech, of Uppsala, Sweden, signed two collaboration agreements that provide early access to their jointly developed integrated microarray systems in exchange for technical expertise. The new partners are PHASE-1 Molecular Technology Inc., of Sante Fe, N.M., which will also provide funding, and the University of Washington, in Seattle.
* Neoprobe Corp., of Dublin, Ohio, began enrolling patients in a Phase I trial of activated cellular therapy in patients co-infected with HIV and chronic active hepatitis B or C. With activated cellular therapy, enlarged lymph nodes of a patient with HIV/AIDS are removed in an outpatient surgery. Effector cells from the lymph nodes are then activated and expanded in number in a laboratory. Ten to 14 days after surgery, the cells are reinfused into the patient with the goal of bolstering the patient's immune system.
* North American Vaccine, of Beltsville, Md., received an FDA request for additional information on Certiva, a vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis now under review at the agency. The company said the product "is on track for completing the final steps for licensure."
* Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y., inked an agreement with the Roche Group, of Basel, Switzerland, to discover and develop novel HIV therapeutics targeting fusion coreceptors of the virus. Roche will provide Progenics up-front and milestone payments, research funding for up to three years and royalties on product sales, if any. In return, Roche gains an exclusive worldwide license to Progenics' HIV coreceptor technology.
* Protein Design Labs Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., reported that Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, has initiated a Phase I European trial of a humanized monclonal antibody fragment for the potential treatment of cardiovascular disorders. The humanized antibody fragment, YM337, inhibits clot formation by binding to the glycoprotein IIb/IIIa receptor on human platelets.
* SangStat Medical Corp., of Menlo Park, Calif., reported positive preliminary results from a double-blinded trial of Thymoglobulin, an anti-T cell polyclonal antibody licensed from Pasteur Merieux Serums & Vaccins, of Lyon, France. The kidney transplant trial compared SangStat's product to Atgam, made by Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc., of Kalamazoo, Mich. The incidence of acute rejection episodes in patients treated with Thymoglobulin was reduced 83.2 percent as compared to those treated with Atgam.
* LeukoSite Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., extended its agreement with Warner-Lambert Co., of Morris Plains, N.J., to discover and develop small-molecule antagonists to AIDS chemokine co-receptors CCR5 and CXCR4 for the treatment of HIV infection. Financial terms of the two-year deal were not disclosed.