* Athena Diagnostics Inc., of Worcester, Mass., won a patent infringement suit against Specialty Laboratories Inc. The suit centered on diagnostic services for Alzheimer's disease based on patent No. 5,508,167. The patent, Athena said, covers the diagnosis and prognosis of late-onset Alzheimer's disease by detecting the presence or absence of the E4 allele of the apolipoprotein E gene.
* Connetics Corp., of Palo Alto, Calif., presented a final analysis of its Phase II scleroderma data for ConXn (recombinant human Relaxin H2). The drug produced a statistically significant improvement in the primary endpoint—the Modified Rodnan Skin Score, a measurement of the hardening of the skin due to excessive fibrosis.
* Atlantic Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Raleigh, N.C., presented preclinical animal data on its lead compound, CT-3, at the scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, in Washington. Oral CT-3 reduced inflammation in animal models of arthritis. The drug is dimethylheptyl-THC-11 oic acid (DMH-11C), a synethetic drug that appears to reverse the psychoactive effects of THC while demonstrating analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. If pre-clinical toxicology studies go well, Atlantic plans to submit an investigational new drug application with the FDA.
* Dura Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, Calif., submitted a new drug application to the FDA for Albuterol Spiros, a powder aerosol formulation of albuterol delivered to the lungs via Dura's Spriros inhaler. Sales of albuterol, a fast-acting bronchodilator, totaled nearly $700 million in 1996.
* G.D. Searle & Co., of Skokie, Ill., presented results of a 549-patient Phase II angioplasty trial of Xemilofiban tablets, which prevent blood clots by inhibiting the glycoprotein IIb/IIIa receptor. The drug was safe, well tolerated and inhibited platelet aggregation by 50 to 80 percent. Though the trial was not designed to measure efficacy, Xemilofiban produced a positive trend in reduction of cardiac events. Based on these results — presented at the scientific meeting of the American Heart Association, in Orlando, Fla. — Searle is launching a Phase III prospective interventional cardiology trial. Searle is a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Monsanto Co.
* ImClone Systems Inc., of New York, received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant of $100,000 from the National Cancer Institute. The funds will support preclinical research to determine whether vascular-specific cadherin (VE-cadherin) is a useful drug target to inhibit cancer-associated angiogenesis. ImClone will test monoclonal antibodies against VE-cadherin as potential angiogenesis inhibitors and use its high-throughput assays to identify small-molecule VE-cadherin inhibtors.