* Alanex Corp., of San Diego, said it received an undisclosed milestone payment from Roche Bioscience, of Palo Alto, Calif., a division of Roche Holding Ltd., of Basel, Switzerland. Alanex is using its combinatorial chemistry to develop small molecule compounds for a genetic target supplied by Roche.
* Arris Pharmaceutical Corp., of South San Francisco, identified the 3-D crystal structure of cathepsin K, a protease thought to cause bone deterioration associated with osteoporosis. The discovery was published in the Feb. 1, 1997, issue of Nature Structural Biology. Arris said cathepsin K is a cysteine protease secreted by osteoclasts, which are cells responsible for bone degradation. The company is using the crystal structure to develop a small molecule inhibitor of the protease in collaboration with Merck & Co., of Whitehouse Station, N.Y.
* ChiRex Inc., of Wellesley, Mass., signed an agreement to manufacture for Cell Therapeutics Inc., of Seattle, its lisofylline, a drug under development for reducing toxicities associated with high dose radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Financial terms were not disclosed.
* Cor Therapeutics Inc., of South San Francisco, began a Phase I trial of an oral compound for treating arterial thrombotic disorders. The drug blocks the IIb-IIIa receptor on platelets to prevent blood clots.
* GeneMedicine Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas, received FDA approval to begin clinical trials of its interleukin-2 (IL-2) gene therapy for head and neck cancer, triggering a $4 million equity investment and $500,000 milestone payment from Corange Ltd., of Bermuda. Corange, which owns 10 percent of GeneMedicine, purchased 534,000 shares at $7.50 per share. The therapy involves using a non-viral vector to deliver a plasmid encoding the human IL-2 gene directly to the tumor site. GeneMedicine is working with Corange subsidiary, Boehringer Mannheim GmbH, of Mannheim, Germany.
* MedImmune Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., began enrollment in a Phase I trial of a vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus, which is responsible for a variety of diseases such as genital warts and cervical cancer. The company said it believes the study of MEDI-501, is the first evaluation in humans of a HPV vaccine.
* North American Vaccine Inc., of Beltsville, Md., reported positive results from a Phase I trial in the U.K. of the company's polysaccharide conjugate vaccine against Group C meningococcal infection in adults.
* Pharmos Corp., of Alachua, Fla., said it filed a new drug application (NDA) with the FDA for approval of loteprednol etabonate, a site-specific steroid, for treatment of ocular allergies, such as seasonal allergic conjunctivitis. The NDA submission is the second in an ophthalmic indication for Pharmos' loteprednol-based products.
* PPL Therapeutics, of Edinburgh, Scotland, said gene expression data from production of the human protein, alpha-lactalbumin, in the milk of one of its transgenic cows reveals levels high enough to achieve bulk manufacture of the protein. The program is part of collaboration between PPL and American Home Products Corp., of Madison, N.J. to produce alpha-lactalbumin, a nutritional protein found in human breast milk.
* Targeted Genetics Corp., of Seattle, began a Phase II trial of its cystic fibrosis gene therapy in collaboration with Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, Calif. The study is designed to evaluate safety and efficacy of the gene therapy in preventing occurrence of sinusitis in up to 50 cystic fibrosis patients. The gene therapy uses an adeno-associated viral vector to deliver a normal copy of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator gene, which is mutated in cystic fibrosis patients.