* Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., has discovered a new strain of hepatitis E in two U.S. residents. The strain, referred to as HEV-US-1, was confirmed when a second patient became infected without leaving the country. Hepatitis E is similar to hepatitis A, both being transmitted through contaminated water in developing nations, and Abbott makes a test for hepatitis E — which leads to liver failure and is potentially fatal to pregnant women — for use in Europe, Asia and Latin America, but not in the U.S.

* International Isotopes Inc., of Denton, Texas, has signed a purchase and sale agreement to acquire 92,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space. It will use the new facilities for contract manufacturing of radiopharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical-grade radioisotopes. The cost was $2.1 million, financed under a 20-year first-lien mortgage.

* The Canadian Genetic Diseases Network, of Toronto, Canada, has identified a gene in which mutations cause an inherited retinal degenerative disease called cone-rod dystrophy. The disease, which develops over the course of many years, leads to total blindness. Mutations of the gene, called CRX, produce degeneration of the retina's light-sensing cells, which convert light energy into nerve impulses.

* Titan Pharmaceuticals Inc., of South San Francisco, presented data demonstrating proof of principle for its implantable polymeric drug delivery system. The data were presented at the meeting of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists in Boston. Titan's ethylene vinyl acetate-based delivery system, used with haloperidol as a model and implanted into dogs, delivered the antipsychotic drug at therapeutic levels in a constant, sustained fashion throughout the 28-day test period.

* Virus Research Institute Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., began analyzing results with Pasteur Merieux Connaught, of Lyon, France, of a Phase II safety and immunogenicity study of an influenza vaccine formulated with Virus Research Institute's proprietary delivery system, known as Adjumer. The study comprised 430 elderly adults, given single injections of the vaccine formulated with or without Adjumer. In an earlier Phase I study, 48 young adults and 41 elderly adults participated.

* Xoma Corp., of Berkeley, Calif., said multiple clinical findings show that measuring lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (LBP) levels in blood may help determine the prognosis of patients with severe gram-negative bacterial infections such as sepsis. LBP is a biochemical marker for exposure to gram-negative bacteria and bacterial toxins. Elevated levels appear to be associated with poor patient outcomes in a variety of disease states.

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