* Acacia Biosciences Inc., of Richmond, Calif., received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health to use the company's Genome Reporter Matrix technology to identify genes whose expression changes in response to treatments with human therapeutics. The system is an assay-based computer modeling system that uses yeast as a miniature ecosystem. It incorporates chemical response profiles, which measure change in gene expression caused by potential therapeutics and then rank genes with altered expression by degree of response. It also uses genetic response profiles, which measure changes in gene expression caused by mutation in the genes encoding the potential targets of pharmaceuticals.

* Aquila Biopharmaceuticals Inc., of Worcester, Mass., began a collaborative Phase I trial to evaluate safety and immunogenicity of a malaria vaccine containing Aquila's proprietary Stimulon adjuvant, QS-21, and the synthetic peptide antigen, SPf66. The trial is sponsored by the World Health Organization and the Colombian government, with collaborators from the University of Barcelona in Spain. The SPf66 antigen has been tested in combination with alum with inconsistent results, suggesting the need for a more potent adjuvant.

* Celgene Corp., of Warren, N.J., raised $18.9 million through a public offering of 2.1 million shares of its stock at $9 per share. The company had sought to sell 2.6 million shares which, at an assumed price of $10.938 per share, would have raised $28.4 million. Underwriters were SBC Warburg Dillon Read Inc., Prudential Securities Inc., and Lowenbaum & Co., all of New York.

* Targeted Genetics Corp., of Seattle, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, also of Seattle, reached a sublicense agreement with Genetic Therapy Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., granting it a limited non-exclusive worldwide sublicense to the patent covering PG13, which is a retroviral packaging cell line. The technology covered under U.S. patent No. 5,470,726, issued in 1996, is co-owned by the Hutchinson Center and the National Institutes of Health. Genetic Therapy is a subsidiary of Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland.

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