Lab Canada

Life Sciences news briefs (May 02, 2003)

Ottawa, ON May 2, 2003 The following life sciences news briefs were recently published by Industry Canada.

1) Pharmaceuticals Update

Lorus scientific publication expands potential of Virulizin

Lorus Therapeutics Inc (Toronto) has published the results of experimental studies demonstrating the anti-tumor activity of Virulizin as a monotherapy and in combination with standard chemotherapy drugs. These studies, carried out in mouse models bearing human tumors, are unique as they expand the potential application of Virulizin to include breast, ovarian and prostate cancers. The findings of the study are published in an April issue of Anti-Cancer Drugs (volume 14, issue 4, pages 289 to 294, 2003) in an article entitled, “Preclinical efficacy of Virulizin in human breast, ovarian and prostate tumor models.” These results complement previously published data that demonstrated the effectiveness of Virulizin as an anti-tumor agent in human pancreatic cancer and melanoma mouse models in Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology (volume 51, issue 3, pages 247-255, 2003). The published results will be included in the preclinical portion of regulatory submissions needed to obtain marketing approval for V irulizin.

AEterna discloses new scientific data on Neovastat

AEterna Laboratories Inc (Quebec) disclosed new scientific data on its lead antiangiogenic compound Neovastat which reinforces its antiangiogenic properties. These data were obtained from two studies conducted by Dr Franois Berger, coordinator of the neuroscience molecular team of the Inserm 318 unit in Grenoble, France. In the first study, Dr Berger, through a proteomic approach allowing for the detection of proteins in the blood, discovered that Neovastat induces a significant decrease of hemoglobin in neoplastic tissues of animals treated with this antiangiogenic drug. This discovery, which is an indication of the decrease of the blood compartment, strongly reinforces the antiangiogenic properties of Neovastat described over the past years following the use of various biological and in vitro assays. In the same abstract, he also reported that specific proteins were detected in the tissues and serum of Neovastat treated animals, suggesting that pharmacokinetic studies of Neovastat might be possible i n humans. In the second study, Dr Berger, through an innovative proprietary genomic tool, found that Neovastat is able to modulate the expression of genes in endothelial cell in vitro. Other inhibitors of angiogenesis (angiostatine and endostatine) were also used under the same experimental conditions.

2) Diagnostics and Therapeutics Update

Novel approach to treat hepatitis C developed by Canadian researchers

The Canadian Network for Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics (CANVAC) announced that four of its affiliated researchers and their collaborators have successfully treated hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected mice using an entirely novel approach. This approach involves introducing into liver cells a gene encoding a modified natural protein, which is then only activated in HCV infected cells and leads to the death of these cells, thereby halting replication of the virus. The newly discovered therapeutic approach could theoretically, in humans, reduce the amount of virus in the blood and eliminate HCV at early stages of infection or prior to liver transplantation. This technology could be applied to other viral infections. HCV is a major source of chronic liver disease throughout the world, and has been estimated to infect more than 200 million individuals including approximately 3 million Americans and 300,000 Canadians. HCV infection leads to a chronic attack of the liver in 70 to 80% of the patients, of which 30% develop cirrhosis and 5 to 10% liver cancer. Moreover, it is the principal cause of liver transplantation in North America. CANVAC is a unique network of 74 of the most highly recognized Canadian specialists in the fields of immunology, virology, and molecular biology, who are faculty members at 25 universities and affiliated research institutes.

Theratechnologies completes enrolment for phase II program on ThGRF

Theratechnologies (Montreal) announced that it has completed the enrolment stage of its Phase II study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of ThGRF, a growth hormone-releasing factor analogue, in patients suffering from a catabolic state secondary to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The company expects to complete the treatment period within three months and will then proceed with data analysis and disclosure of the results. Conducted in 20 centers in Canada and Europe, this double-blind, randomized, parallel group and placebo-controlled Phase II study is aimed at evaluating the efficacy and safety of two doses of ThGRF (1 mg and 2 mg), administered daily over a three-month period, on body composition, physical capacity, functional status and quality of life in 90 patients of 50 years of age and over.

IMI new approach to cancer screening targets three deadliest cancers

A new test for early-stage cancer detection is showing significant promise as a future screening option for the three most deadly cancers in North America, according to new clinical data published this week. Developed by predictive medicine company IMI International Medical Innovations Inc, (Toronto) the new tests target lung, colorectal and breast cancers in the early stages of disease when they are more often curable. The latest clinical data on the three tests are published in the Proceedings of the 94th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. The three tests, colorectAlert for colorectal cancer, LungAlert for lung cancer and a newly added test for breast cancer, all detect a common cancer marker (N-acetyl-D galactosamine) in a sample of mucus taken from the respective parts of the body. The tests are designed to be simple, low-cost procedures in which a mucus sample from the patient is applied to a card and treated with a series of chemicals that cause a color- change r eaction. The color change is measured by a spectrophotometer, producing a quantified test result. The tests require no preparation by the patient and samples can be collected at a lab or as part of a routine doctor visit.

3) Medical Devices Update

Angiotech Broadens Alliance with Baxter

Angiotech Pharmaceuticals, Inc (Vancouver) announced that the company has broadened its strategic alliance with Baxter Healthcare Corporation, granting Baxter the right to manufacture the surgical sealant product, CoSeal, and the surgical anti-adhesive product, Adhibit. On February 25, 2003, Angiotech announced a strategic alliance entitling Baxter to worldwide (excluding Japan and certain other territories) sales, marketing and distribution rights for CoSeal and Adhibit. The transaction will include an up-front fee of approximately C$12 million and further payments up to C$22 million. In addition, the agreement provides for royalties in the low double digits on product sales.

Andromed signs a distribution agreement with the Stevens Company

Andromed Inc (Montreal), a high-tech medical company, and the Stevens Company Limited, a privately owned Canadian medical product distributor, announce that they had signed an agreement for distribution of the electronic stethoscope Androscope i-stethos to healthcare facilities and professionals. The agreement of a three-year term appoints the Stevens Company as distributor of the Androscope i-stethos and accessories in the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia provinces and, in Yukon and Northwest Territories. The Stevens Company will be responsible for the development of a marketing and sales strategy and to promote jointly with Andromed the Androscope i-stethos.

CryoCath receives FDA approval For Freezor

CryoCath Technologies Inc (Montreal) announced that its Freezor CryoAblation System has received marketing approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, allowing the company to
immediately launch the system in the US, five months ahead of schedule. Freezor is initially indicated to treat Atrioventricular Node Reentry Tachycardia, the most prevalently ablated arrhythmia in the US, accounting for over 50,000 annual procedures.

Angiotech receives CE mark approval for CoSeal surgical sealant

Angiotech Pharmaceuticals, Inc (Vancouver) announced that it has received CE Mark approval to market a new premixed configuration of CoSeal; the same formulation that was approved by the US FDA in February. CoSeal, first approved by the European Community in February 2000 for cardiovascular indications, is a novel, fully synthetic surgical sealing agent designed to optimize healing by rapidly sealing tissue surfaces, suture lines and synthetic grafts. The new premixed CoSeal affords more flexibility to surgeons. CoSeal is simpler to use, can be stored at room temperature, and has a two-hour lifespan once activated.

4) Industry Update

Procyon Biopharma Inc (Montreal) announced that it has successfully completed the acquisition of all outstanding shares of Pharmacor Inc, a Montreal-based biopharmaceutical company committed to the discovery and development of innovative therapeutic agents for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, in exchange for 7 million Procyon common shares.

PanGeo Pharma Inc (Montreal) announced that it has named Gary Ullman, chairman of the board of directors, effective immediately. Mr Ullman replaces Ahmad Doroudian who stepped down as chairman. Mr Doroudian remains CEO of PanGeo Pharma Inc and will remain on the board.

Labopharm Inc (Laval) announced that through its wholly owned subsidiary, Labopharm Europe Limited, it has secured marketing agreements for Italy with Gruppo Angelini and for Spain and Portugal with Esteve S.A. for its lead in-house product candidate, a once-daily version of the analgesic tramadol.

Bioxel Pharma Inc ( Quebec), manufacturer of naturally derived taxanes and targeted oncology drugs, announced that it has retained the services of Renmark Financial Communications Inc to handle its investor relations.

Specialty pharmaceutical developer Dimethaid Research Inc (Toronto) has successfully completed its previously announced rights offering. Rights were exercised for a total of 4,632,296 common shares, providing Dimethaid with C $9,264,592 in gross proceeds.

MedMira Inc (Halifax) announced that it has received an additional order for 150,000 MiraWell Rapid HIV Tests from its distributor in the South Central province of Guangdong in the People’s Republic of China. This follows an initial order of 250,000 units, which was announced February 13. Delivery of the second order will closely follow shipment of the first.

Salix Pharmaceuticals, Ltd (Raleigh, NC) announced that after careful consideration, including a thorough review with independent financial, legal and medical advisors, its board of directors has unanimously determined that Axcan Pharma Inc’s (Mont St. Hilaire) April 10 unsolicited tender offer for all outstanding shares of Salix common stock at $8.75 per share is grossly inadequate and not in the best interests of Salix or its stockholders.

Axcan Pharma Inc.(Mont St. Hilaire) filed a preliminary proxy statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission announcing its intention to nominate a slate of independent directors for election to the board of directors of Salix Pharmaceuticals, Ltd (Raleigh, NC) at Salix’s annual meeting scheduled for Thursday, June 19.

VSM MedTech Ltd (Vancouver) announced that its president and chief executive officer, Barry Allen, has been honoured as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40. The program, now in its eighth year, was established by Caldwell Partners International, to recognize the achievements of outstanding Canadians under the age of 40.

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: