* Centocor Inc., of Malvern, Pa., presented data showing that its Avakine (infliximab), formerly referred to as cA2, may be used for treatment of fistulae, a complication of Crohn's disease in which extensions occur between the bowel and the skin, causing drainage of mucous and fecal material. The data were presented at the meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Chicago. Centocor, which released Phase III data in May, said it intends to file a biologic license application for Avakine with the FDA before the end of this year.
* ChemTrak Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., reported that its ColoCARE home test for fecal occult blood outperformed three other such tests in an independent study. Of the four tests kits used by 85 patients for two years, only the throw-in-the-bowl method used in ChemTrak's kit detected precancerous polyps. While ColoCARE showed the highest positive predictive value for detection of all types of polyps, the other kits showed no correlation with positive results.
* Chiron Corp., of Emeryville, Calif., said its RabAvert rabies vaccine has been cleared for marketing in the U.S. for pre-exposure vaccination and post-exposure prophylaxis against rabies. The vaccine will be manufactured by Chiron Behring GmbH & Co. and distributed in the U.S. by Chiron. RabAvert is the first new vaccine against rabies to be introduced in the U.S. in almost 10 years.
* Ergo Science Corp., of Boston, presented scientific findings related to its neuroendocrine resetting therapy with neurotransmitter modulating drugs, called dopamine agonists, for metabolic disorders such as Type II diabetes. The studies described the effects of dopamine agonists on brain centers that are believed to be responsible for drug-induced improvements in metabolism.
* GeneTrace Systems Inc., of Menlo Park, Calif., received a three-year, $1.76 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The funds will support the company's proprietary DNA analysis technology for high-throughput gene expression screening and gene discovery. The grant will be directed toward the continued development of DNA probe measurements based on the company's time-of-flight mass spectrometry platform.
* Neurobiological Technologies Inc., of San Francisco, completed patient enrollment in its Phase II human clinical trial of Memantine, an orally available N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor used for treatment of neuropathic pain. Patients enrolled in the trial were diagnosed with either peripheral neuropathy due to diabetes or with post-herpetic neuralgia, a chronic pain condition due to shingles. They will receive either Memantine or a placebo for eight weeks. The primary endpoint of the trial is reduction in pain as evaluated by patients and physicians according to standard analgesic measurements.
* Neurogen Corp., of Branford, Conn., completed a Phase Ia study of NGD 91-2, the company's small-molecule pill to reduce anxiety without causing sedation. The single escalating dose, placebo-controlled study was conducted with Neurogen's partner, Pfizer Inc., of New York. The trial data showed the drug was safe and well-tolerated across a broad dose range. Pfizer has commenced additional Phase I studies testing the safety of the compound in human subjects who receive multiple doses.
* Prizm Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Diego, received a $100,000 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Public Health Service. Funds will be used to further develop the company's technology for targeting gene expression in selective tissues. The company is exploring ways to deliver genes to areas of vascular injury by systemic administration to treat restenosis and vascular proliferative diseases.
* Progenics Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Tarrytown, N.Y., was awarded about $3 million under three National Institutes of Health programs for therapeutic and vaccine products in the company's HIV program. The funding consists of four grants and one contract. The largest funding is a $1.6 million contract for the production of novel forms of the HIV envelope protein as candidate HIV vaccines.
* Mycogen Corp., of San Diego, entered into licensing agreements with Washington University, of St. Louis, for exclusive commercial rights to human and animal health applications of technology that alters plants to produce edible vaccines. In tests, mice are fed foods such as potatoes, tomatoes or alfalfa sprouts that have been genetically altered to produce antigens. An immune response is elicited when the immune system's "effector sites" in the digestive tract recognize the antigens.
* Sangstat Medical Corp., of Menlo Park, Calif., announced positive preliminary results of a clinical trial in which stable kidney transplant recipients, currently on Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis AG's Sandimmune, were converted to Sangstat's proprietary cyclosporine, called Sang-35. Previously, Sangstat presented results of studies showing that Sang-35 is bioequivalent to Novartis' Neoral, which is an improved formulation of cyclosporine, with increased bioavailability. Sandimmune, a daily immunosuppressive therapy, was introduced by Sandoz Ltd. (now Novartis) in the U.S. in 1983.