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Life sciences news briefs (December 05, 2003)


Ottawa, ON December 5, 2003 The following life sciences news briefs were published by Industry Canada this week.

1) Pharmaceuticals Update

Transition Therapeutics receives approval to extend phase I clinical study

Transition Therapeutics (Toronto) has received approval to extend the Phase I human clinical trial of its islet neogenesis therapy (INT) lead product. In the initial INT phase I trial, subjects received escalating doses of individual INT growth factors, gastrin analogue (G1) or epidermal growth factor analogue (E1). Doses for G1 ranged from 3 (micro) g/kg to 30 (micro) g/kg, and E1 doses ranged from 0.1 (micro) g/kg to 3 (micro) g/kg. In both cases, the maximal doses used were greater than the expected human dose for INT treatment in diabetes. No subjects in the study reported serious or unexpected adverse events. Building on these results, the study extension will examine the safety profile and refine dosing ranges for the administration of the combination of INT growth factors (E1 and G1). The clinical trial will occur in the UK with patient enrolment expected to commence in December 2003 and the clinical trial expected to be complete by the end of February 2004.

Yes Biotech opens joint venture in China

Yes Biotech Laboratories (Mississauga) has partnered with Asia Pacific Biotech, the Shanghai Science and Technology Investment (Shanghai City government) and Pudong Science & Technology Investment in a joint venture to create the Asia United Antibody Medical (AUAM) in Pudong, China. The first stage of the investment is US$6 million, and a further investment will be secured by the end of next year. The new manufacturing facility built in the Shanghai (ZJ) Hi-Tech Park in Pudong, will also house research and development of novel, humanized antibody medicines for the treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, as well as SARS and other inflammatory diseases.

2) Diagnostics and Therapeutics Update

Joint venture of ProMetic releases first prion reduction product

Pathogen Removal and Diagnostic Technologies, a joint venture of Prometic Life Sciences (Toronto), and the American National Red Cross presented details of the first product designed to reduce selectively the infectivity of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) agents responsible for transmission of classical Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) and variant forms of CJD (vCJD), from plasma derived products. The findings were presented at the 2nd European Plasma Fractionation Association (EPFA) Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. The company says this product is a world first. The successfully developed product, a proprietary immobilized ligand molecule binds to abnormal prion proteins and prion infectivity, and filters them out of plasma-derived protein solutions, thereby greatly reducing any potential risk of TSE disease transmission from plasma-derived products. The product will be initially employed in industrial preparation of plasma and plasma products, adding an extra removal step to the bioprocessing procedure and providing an increased margin of safety from TSE infectivity to recipients of plasma-derived products and additional reassurance to recipients of their safety and integrity.

Vasogen brands lead phase III product Celacade

Vasogen (Mississauga), announced that it has adopted the brand name Celacade (immune modulation therapy), for its lead product, which is currently in pivotal phase III clinical trials for the treatment of chronic heart failure and peripheral arterial disease. The Celacade brand name will be used by the company as it advances its development program towards commercialization. Celacade is designed to target chronic inflammation by activating the immune system’s physiological anti-inflammatory response to apoptotic cells. Recent advances in medical research have established the fundamental role of ongoing or chronic inflammation in the development and progression of heart failure, atherosclerosis, and many other medical conditions.

Availability of an improved cystic fibrosis screening test

Specialty Laboratories (Santa Monica, CA), a hospital-focused clinical reference laboratory, announced the availability of an improved genetic screening test for cystic fibrosis (CF) and cystic fibrosis carrier status. The test, cystic fibrosis 70 GenotypR, offered exclusively by Specialty, screens for 70 of the most clinically important mutations of the CF gene found in US population groups. The test was developed in collaboration with Tm Bioscience (Toronto), a DNA-based diagnostics company. The broad mutation coverage of the test exceeds the minimum recommendations of the American College of Medical Genetics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for general population screening. Because specific CF mutations are associated with different ethnic groups, Specialty’s expanded 70-mutation panel offers improved detection of CF carriers among African-American and Hispanic individuals.

MDS brings Omega-3 fatty acid test to Canadians

MDS Diagnostic Services (Toronto) announced that it is providing national access to a newly developed test for Omega-3 essential fatty acids. “Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids,” said Dr Brian Sheridan, senior vice-president of Medical Affairs for MDS. “Now we have a way to help patients and their physicians monitor Omega-3 levels and pro-actively manage this aspect of heart health.” The test, developed by Nutrasource Diagnostics (NDI) of Guelph, ON, uses a small blood sample to determine an Omega-3 fatty acid score. Patients with low levels can then modify their diets to boost their results. Desirable levels of Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked with significantly reduced risk of heart disease.

PROCREA signs a five-year contract with Adaltis

The clinical laboratory division of Adaltis, an international diagnostic company based in Montreal, announced that it has acquired the Prenatest exclusive license agreement and laboratory assets from its new partner, Procrea Cliniques. Through this transaction, the Adaltis clinical laboratory division and Procrea cliniques enter into a five-year contract dividing operations as follows: the Adaltis clinical laboratory division will handle distribution of Prenatest to the medical community, the analysis of laboratory results and conveyance of test results to the patients’ treating physicians; Procrea cliniques will continue to offer blood analysis and nuchal translucency ultrasound services to its patients in Montreal and Quebec City. Furthermore, Procrea cliniques will continue to offer its cytogenetic diagnostic services (including the Fish technique) in the testing of amniotic fluid and blood samples.

3) Medical Devices

IatroQuest relocating to Montral

IatroQuest Corporation, a developer of advanced biosensing technologies, announced today the relocation of its head office and operations to a facility located in the City of Montral. The company has begun operating out of some 20 thousand sq ft of office, laboratory and clean room space on Nuns’ Island, and is poised to grow by some 30% in the next year. A recent $15 million investment by BDC, Desjardins Venture Capital, Fonds de solidarit FTQ and T2C2/Bio2000 brings company equity to more than $21 million. The company further intends to implement its biochips pilot production line at this new location.

Cedara signs new partner agreement with Chinese system integrator

Cedara Software (Toronto) an independent developer of medical software technologies for the global healthcare market, today announced an agreement with Beijing Invention & Technology (BITC) to market Cedara’s I-Suite picture archiving and communications system (PACS) family of products in China. Specializing in healthcare information systems (HIS), BITC has the certification to sell to Chinese military hospitals and is well established in that arena, with a customer base of over 200 military hospitals and numerou
s civilian hospitals. The agreement with BITC accelerates Cedara’s strategic plans to extend its PACS business into the Chinese marketplace.

4) Genomic Update

ChondroGene completes GeneNews acquisition

ChondroGene (Toronto) announced that it has completed the acquisition of GeneNews, which was previously announced on May 16, 2003. The company acquired all of the outstanding shares of GeneNews through the issuance of 4,000,000 common shares of ChondroGene to the shareholders of GeneNews at a price of $0.50 per share. The principal asset of GeneNews is certain proprietary technology, in which ChondroGene presently holds certain licensing rights in the areas of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and traumatic joint injury. This technology is considered to be of significant importance, particularly as applied to pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine approaches and in the development of novel diagnostics and therapeutics across a broad range of human disease.

5) Industry Update

Angiotech Pharmaceuticals (Vancouver) announced that its license agreement with CR Bard, has been terminated by mutual agreement of the two companies. The license agreement, entered into in 1998, provided for the use of paclitaxel and other related compounds for the perivascular treatment of stenosis associated with peripheral vascular surgery. The parties’ primary focus under the license agreement was a paclitaxel-loaded biodegradable vascular wrap for use in peripheral vascular surgery.

Cedara Software (Toronto), a leading independent developer of medical software technologies for the global healthcare market, announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with IBM China. The agreement commits both companies to work together to explore and identify opportunities in the Chinese market.

Angiotech Pharmaceuticals (Vancouver) announced that it has completed enrollment of its 50-patient, Phase 2 study for the use of Paxceed (micellar paclitaxel) in the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The company expects to announce preliminary results of the study at the end of the second quarter in 2004.

VSM MedTech (Vancouver) announced that it has received a 2003 Canada Export Award. The award was presented by the federal minister for international trade, Hon Pierre S Pettigrew, at a gala ceremony held in Toronto at the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) international trade conference.

TSO3 (Quebec City) is proud to announce the appointment of Mrs Anne Burke and Mrs Lorna Murphy as clinical specialists respectively for eastern United States and for both western Canada and western United States.

Dimethaid Research (Toronto) has filed a final short form prospectus relating to the previously announced private placement of 14,377,688 special warrants. The special warrants were sold on October 30, 2003 at a price of $1.00 per special warrant, providing Dimethaid with CDN $14,377,688 in gross proceeds. The offering was led by Paradigm Capital and included Vengate Capital Partners.

Chronogen (Montreal) announced an initial closing of $17 million in an ongoing series B financing. This new round of financing closes as Chronogen continues to build its multidisciplinary team of scientists, expands its operations, and acquires technologies to complement its drug discovery programs.

Atrium Biotechnologies (Quebec City), a subsidiary of AEterna Laboratories, announced the acquisition of 100% of all issued and outstanding shares of Siricie for $2 million cash. Based in Paris, this company is focused mainly in the development and marketing of active ingredients drawn from marine life for the cosmetics industry. In 2002, Siricie generated revenues of more than $2.5 million.

Duft Biotech Capital (Vancouver) announced the name of the company would change from Duft Biotech Capital to ALDA Pharmaceuticals, effective on the opening of TSXV trading on Thursday, November 27, 2003. The company will trade under the new ticker symbol APH.

Life Sciences News Brief is prepared by Armar International for the Life Sciences Branch of Industry Canada (contact: Paul Vaillancourt; Telephone: (613) 952-7700; E-mail: vaillancourt.paul@ic.gc.ca).