* Cambridge Biotech Corp.'s former chief financial officer, Peter Hartman, was sentenced to five years' probation for falsely inflating the company's revenues. Hartman, of Suwanee, Ga., will serve the first year of his sentence in home confinement and will be electronically monitored by an ankle bracelet. Hartman also was ordered to pay $540,000 in restitution. Hartman retired from Cambridge Biotech in 1993, a year before the Worcester, Mass., company filed for federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Cambridge Biotech was reorganized in 1996. Its diagnostics units were sold and its therapeutic programs became part of a new company called Aquila Biopharmaceuticals Inc., which is headquartered in Worcester.
* Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Carlsbad, Calif., received a $2 million award for new drug discovery technology from the Advanced Technology Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Isis is working with the University of California, at Irvine and San Diego, along with two other companies to integrate computational methods, synthetic chemistry, automation and rapid screening. The goal is to make it possible to evaluate up to 15 million compounds per year.
* Large Scale Biology Corp., of Rockville, Md., received a $2 million award from the Advanced Technology Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The funds will advance the company's proprietary protein analysis and database technology. Large Scale's ProGEx platform, which allows large-scale protein expression analysis, will be expanded, along with its BioMetre system, which provides automated, high-throughput, two-dimensional electrophoresis.
* Verigen Inc., of Guilford, Conn., said it has entered into a non-exclusive licensing agreement with Italchimici S.p.A., of Pomezia, Italy, for development and marketing in that country of Vergen's PASSTNF-alpha. The drug, a porcine-derived polyclonal antibody, apparently reduces and may halt production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, which is believed to cause the swollen, painful joints characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis. Phase I/II trials of the drug are under way by Verigen in Denmark.
* Alpha-Beta Technology Inc., of Worcester, Mass., said its subsidiary, MycoTox Inc., received four Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grants, totaling $400,000, from the National Institutes of Health for antifungal drug discovery.
* ArQule Inc., of Medford, Mass., and RiboGene Inc., of Hayward, Calif., entered a collaboration to develop antibacterial and antiviral drugs. Financial terms were not disclosed. The companies said they will share ownership rights and revenues to compounds emerging from the alliance. RiboGene will use its genomics expertise to identify targets for therapeutic compounds developed by ArQule.
* CellPro Inc., of Seattle, applied to the FDA to expand the label of its Ceprate SC Stem Cell Concentration System to include selection of peripheral blood stem cells. The application includes data from a Phase III trial, whose results were released in June. (See BioWorld Today, June 18, 1997, p. 1.)
* Dyax Corp., of Cambridge, Mass., and CropTech Development Corp., of Blacksburg, Va., have received a $4.3 million award from the Advanced Technology Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The grant supports joint research and development efforts under which the pair is working on technologies for the manufacture of therapeutic proteins and peptides. CropTech will generate transgenic plant expression systems for pharmaceutical production, and Dyax will develop affinity separations systems using its proprietary phage display technology.
* Integra LifeSciences Corp., of Plainsboro, N.J., received a $2 million Advanced Technology Program grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology for development of the company's BioSmart absorbable biocompatible polymers, which are designed for tissue engineering, prevention of adhesions and drug delivery.
* Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., said it received milestone payments from Wyeth-Ayerst Research, a division of American Home Products Corp., of Madison, N.J., for delivering three antibacterial genetic targets to its partner for drug discovery screening. Payment amounts were not disclosed. Millennium received funds for each target plus a bonus for reaching the milestones in less than a year. Millennium acquired the Wyeth-Ayerst collaboration in its takeover of ChemGenics Pharmaceuticals Inc. in January 1997. ChemGenics, of Cambridge, Mass., formed the alliance with Wyeth-Ayerst, of King of Prussia, Pa., in December 1996.
* Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Richmond, Calif., began a Phase II trial of ONYX-015 for patients with head and neck cancer. The drug will be evaluated in combination with two chemotherapeutic agents, Cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil. ONYX-015 is a genetically altered adenovirus designed to infect and kill tumor cells deficient in the p53 tumor suppressor gene. Mutations in the p53 gene are common to 50 percent of cancers. The drug also is being tested in Phase II studies as a single-agent anticancer treatment.
* SciClone Pharmaceuticals Inc., of San Mateo, Calif., received a $100,000 Orphan Drug Grant from the FDA for Phase I development of CPX, a cystic fibrosis treatment. The company said CPX is an oral compound designed to stimulate the transport of chloride ions across epithelial cells. Faulty transport of chloride, caused by a malfunctioning cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene, is responsible for the disease.
* Sibia Neurosciences Inc., of La Jolla, Calif., automated its high-throughput organic synthesis capability with robotic systems for reagent handling. Automated systems permit the parallel synthesis of 96 compounds per reaction block. This means the company can prepare libraries of thousands of compounds per week.
* Tularik Inc., of South San Francisco, acquired Amplicon Corp., of Stony Brook, N.Y., in a stock swap. The value of the takeover was not disclosed. Amplicon's genetic analysis technology, licensed from Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) Laboratory, is used to separate abnormal DNA from normal DNA in unhealthy cells. Tularik said it will apply Amplicon's representational difference analysis technology to cancer drug discovery.
* Vical Inc., of San Diego, received $1 million from Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc., of Collegeville, Pa., as part of an agreement involving use of Vical's naked DNA gene delivery technology for development of gene therapies to treat neurodegenerative diseases. In addition to the licensing fee, Vical will receive milestone payments and royalties.
* Serono Laboratories Inc., of Norwell, Mass., said the FDA approved its growth hormone releasing hormone, Geref, for treatment for growth hormone deficiency in children. Serono, part of the Geneva, Switzerland-based Ares-Serono Group, said the drug, sermorelin acetate, is a replacement for growth hormone releasing hormone, which in healthy children generates the release of growth hormone from the hypothalamus. Serono also markets in the U.S. Saizen, which is recombinant human growth hormone.