* Alza Corp., of Palo Alto, Calif., said it reduced its work force by about 90 positions, which was expected to result in a one-time charge of about $2 million in the fourth quarter. Since 1993, the company has grown at an unprecedented rate in product development and commercializing, as well as research, Ernest Mario, chairman and CEO, said in a prepared statement. The work force reduction was done to offset higher expenses and stay competitive, he said.
* Terrapin Technologies Inc., of South San Francisco, entered a collaboration with Pharmagene plc, of the U.K., to identify compounds for treating migraine headaches and gastrointestinal motility-related disorders. The pact will used Terrapin's chemoinformatics technology and small-molecule library to identify compounds that show high affinity to Pharmagene's targets. The companies expect to expand into a broader research and development program.
* Milkhaus Laboratory, of Boxford, Mass., completed a $4.5 million financing to complement a $1.7 million round earlier this year, for a total of $6.2 million. In the next few months, the company expects to complete a 100-patient Phase II trial of its therapeutic agent for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. It also plans to complete a Phase III trial of an investigational product for the pre-leukemic disease known as myelodysplastic syndrome.
* Neose Technologies Inc., of Horsham, Pa., formed a joint development program with McNeil Specialty Products Co., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J. The program will focus on an enzymatic manufacturing process for naturally occurring oligosaccharides (complex carbohydrates) for human health care applications. The collaboration will be managed by a board composed of Neose and McNeil management.
* Perkin-Elmer Corp., of Norwalk, Conn., acquired Molecular Informatics Inc., of Santa Fe, N.M., a privately held developer of infrastructure software for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and agrochemical industries, as well as for applied markets such as forensics and human identification. Tony White, chairman, president and CEO of Perkin-Elmer, said the acquisition will help the company accelerate new product development and system integration. Perkin-Elmer paid cash for all outstanding shares of Molecular Informatics, but other terms were not disclosed.
* Schering-Plough Corp., of Madison, N.J., reported on an ongoing Phase I trial of intrahepatic arterial administration of its recombinant adenovirus encoding human p53 (rAd/p53) gene therapy in patients with liver malignancies. The study showed evidence of transgene expression in tumors by this systemic route, despite preexisting antibodies to the adenovirus. The results were reported by Schering-Plough Research Institute. The p53 gene therapy program began as a research collaboration with Canji Inc., of San Diego, which Schering-Plough bought in 1996.
* Vical Inc., of San Diego, reported initial results from 11 patients in Phase I/II dose-escalation trials showing that leuvectin, a gene-based oncology product, may provide benefit for certain patients with advanced metastatic renal-cell carcinoma. Leuvectin is a DNA-based product that also is being studied in melanoma, sarcoma and prostate cancer. Its active ingredient is a gene encoding interleukin-2, a naturally occurring protein that stimulates the immune system.