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Life sciences news briefs (October 01, 2003)


Ottawa, ON — October 1, 2003 — The following life sciences news briefs were published recently by Industry Canada:

1) Pharmaceuticals Update

Cardiome reports Oxypurinol clinical trial results

Cardiome Pharma (Vancouver) announced that its heart failure drug candidate oxypurinol met the primary endpoint in a recently completed clinical trial. Results from the study confirmed preclinical and clinical studies demonstrating the beneficial effects of oxypurinol on the endothelial dysfunction that often accompanies heart disease. Results from the open-label, proof-of-concept Exotic study were presented at a satellite symposium to the Heart Failure Society of America’s annual meeting. The satellite symposium, entitled “Xanthine Oxidase Inhibition for the Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure” was sponsored by Cardiome and focused on the benefit of using a well-known class of metabolism-modifying drugs upon heart disease. The primary endpoint of the study was reversal of acetylcholine-mediated coronary vasoconstriction after intravenous administration of oxypurinol. Prof Dr Thomas Munzel and Dr Stephan Baldus conducted the study at the Eppendorf Clinic at the University of Hamburg.

Study confirms safety and efficacy of deferiprone

A new study published in Blood reports impressive results from a large, long-term prospective study examining the safety and efficacy of deferiprone, an orally active medicine for the treatment of iron overload in thalassemia, a rare genetic blood disorder. Deferiprone (Ferriprox) is the first oral iron treatment to be approved by a regulatory agency and serves as a hope for those patients who cannot tolerate the injectable drug that had been the only treatment available for the past 30 years. Ferriprox is the trademark of Apotex (Toronto) for deferiprone, an orally active iron chelator.

Altachem Pharma purchases shanghai office/manufacturing facility

Altachem Pharma (Edmonton) announced that after independent test results have shown that Bionex disinfectant is effective against the Corona virus and Polio virus; and a positive evaluation of the economics of adding a production line in the Shanghai manufacturing facility to produce Bionex as a high-level disinfectant, Altachem has entered into a memorandum of understanding to purchase the office and manufacturing buildings (totaling 43,960 sq. ft.), less the land, in Shanghai, China.

Medicure MEND-1 trial results published in American Journal of Cardiology

Medicure (Winnipeg) announced that the results from its Phase II clinical trial of the cardioprotective effects of MC-1, called MEND-1, have been published in the current issue of The American Journal of Cardiology (Volume 92). The article is entitled “Reduction of Myocardial Ischemic Injury Following Coronary Intervention: The MC-1 to Eliminate Necrosis and Damage Trial”. The publication presents further detail, background information and analysis of the MEND-1 study.

Axcan submits URSO 500 mg tablets for approval

Axcan Pharma (St Hilaire) announced that it has submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration a supplemental New Drug Application for URSO in a 500 mg tablet dosage form (“URSO DS”) for the treatment of Primary Biliary Cirrhosis. If approved, this new dosage form will complement the 250 mg URSO tablets Axcan currently markets in the US for the treatment of PBC. Axcan launched URSO DS in Canada earlier this year for the treatment of cholestatic liver diseases.

2) Diagnostics and Therapeutics Update

Old drug works new tricks for iron overload heart disease

Researchers at the University of Toronto and Toronto General Hospital have made a discovery that could prevent damage to the heart, pancreas and pituitary gland from excess iron with a simple pill. This could save many lives around the world and spare patients from the cumbersome treatments currently available. The scientists have found that oral medications currently used to treat hypertension are also effective at blocking excessive iron from entering certain critical organs and causing permanent damage. Their new research is published in the Sept. 15 issue of Nature Medicine. Hereditary hemochromatosis and secondary iron overload due to illnesses such thalassemia and sickle cell anemia are genetic disorders associated with elevated iron levels that particularly affect people of North American, European, Mediterranean or Asian descent.

Oncolytics publish animal data on oncolytic adenoviruses

Oncolytics Biotech (Calgary) announced the publication of a research paper in the September 1, 2003 issue of Cancer Research entitled “Ras-dependent oncolysis with an adenovirus VAI mutant.” The research was conducted by Dr Ramon Alemany and his group at the Institut Catala d’Oncologia, Barcelona, Spain. The researchers were able to show that VAI mutant adenoviruses selectively replicated in and killed pancreatic cancer cells with a Ras-activated pathway. Oncolytics announced a research collaboration on July 30, 2003 with Dr Alemany to develop modified adenoviruses that are selective for Ras-mediated cancers, and currently the company holds an issued US patent with claims covering the treatment of Ras-mediated tumours using adenoviruses modified in the VAI domain.

Chromos and Xencor announce agreement for ACE system

Chromos Molecular Systems (Burnaby) and Xencor (Montovia, CA) announced that they have entered into a non-exclusive research license agreement to develop cell lines that express Xencor’s monoclonal antibodies and other recombinant protein product candidates. Under the terms of the agreement, Xencor will use the ACE system platform to generate cell lines expressing proteins derived from its protein design automation (PDA) technology. Xencor also receives an option to negotiate a commercial license for manufacturing its clinical products. PDA technology is used to identify and optimize novel protein lead candidates. Chromos will receive an upfront payment and annual maintenance fees. Further financial details were not disclosed.

Diagnocure, Bostwick Laboratories offer gene-based prostate cancer test

DiagnoCure (Qubec City) announced that on October 15, 2003, Bostwick Laboratories of Richmond, VA will begin offering an in-house version of its investigational uPM3 assay for prostate cancer. The test, which detects the expression of the prostate cancer specific gene PCA3(DD3), is hoped to be a major advance in the improvement of prostate cancer diagnosis. prostate specific antigen (PSA), the most common test for prostate cancer, suffers from a lack of specificity. That means, only one of four patients found to be positive (over 4.0 ng/ml), will be found to have cancer on biopsy. Patients with elevated PSA and negative biopsy are a significant dilemma for urologists and it is difficult to decide when to re-biopsy the patient.

3) Medical Devices

MIV Therapeutics drug-eluting stent coating achieves NSERC milestone

MIV Therapeutics (Vancouver) has received a mid-point milestone interim progress report from the University of British Columbia on the development of its proprietary Hap (hydroxyapatite) multi-layer coating with drug-eluting capabilities. The program, entitled “Functionally Gradient Calcium Phosphate Coatings for Stents” is conducted jointly by the University of British Columbia and MIVI Technologies a wholly owned subsidiary of MIV Therapeutics under the Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) grant received from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Program Achievements: Reproducible deposition of sub-micron HAp coatings; Integrity of sub-micron coating upon expansion; Suitability of porous coating for drug encapsulation

Medical Ventures’ partner demonstrates covered stent

Medical Ventures (Vancouver) announced that the over and under covered stent was successfully demonstrated in two procedures transmitted live to the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) meeting this past week. On Mon
day, September 15th, Dr Antonio Colombo, a leader in the field of interventional cardiology, implanted an Over and Under Covered Stent at the Emo Centro Cuore Colombus in Milan, Italy. On September 18th, Dr Yaron Almagor implanted two stents on another patient at Shaare Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel. Both procedures were performed very successfully by these two leaders in the field of Interventional Cardiology. The patients are in good condition and both doctors are very satisfied with the results.

VSM MedTech to develop breakthrough MEG/MRI hybrid technology

VSM MedTech (Vancouver) announced that it has begun development of a revolutionary hybrid MEG/MRI system capable of combined anatomical and functional imaging of the brain and in utero fetus. The new system will combine VSM’s industry leading magnetoencephalography (MEG) technology with ultra-low field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology from the University of California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Berkeley Lab recently selected VSM’s subsidiary, CTF Systems, to receive an exclusive license to the low-field MRI technology for use with VSM’s MEG technology, subject to finalization of a definitive agreement. Under the terms of the proposed licensing agreement, CTF will pay Berkeley Lab a royalty based on sales of the hybrid MEG/MRI systems.

4) Industry Update

Biomira (Edmonton) announced that it has arranged a financing, totaling US$16,290,000, with Rodman & Renshaw, of New York acting as exclusive placement agent.

BioMS Medical Corp (Edmonton) announced that effective on Tuesday, September 30, 2003, the term of share purchase warrants issued or issuable by BioMS, entitling the holders thereof to purchase up to 1,815,000 Class A common shares at a price of $5.80 per share on or before October 22, 2003, has been extended from October 22, 2003 to October 22, 2004 and the exercise price has been reduced from $5.80 per share to $4.00 per share.

Cardiome Pharma (Vancouver) announced the closing of its public offering of 3,810,000 Common Shares at $5.25 per share, in connection with the previously announced agreement with a syndicate of underwriters led by Orion Securities and Sprott Securities and including First Associates Investments Raymond James and Research Capital Corporation. Cardiome has granted the underwriters an over-allotment option to purchase up to 571,500 common shares at $5.25 per share, exercisable at any time until 30 days following closing.

ART Advanced Research Technologies (Montreal), announced that it has completed as of September 22, 2003 a private placement of US$ 10.3 million. Synerglobe Capital a European private merchant bank, acted as principal intermediary and Kingsdale Capital Partners a Canadian corporate finance firm, as part of the agency group. ART intends to use the proceeds of this private placement as part of its working capital.

Isotechnika (Edmonton) announced that Prakash Gowd will not be joining the company as director of investor relations and corporate communications.

Drug Royalty USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Drug Royalty (Toronto), announced that it has acquired a royalty interest in the US sales of Cortrosyn, an injectible diagnostic drug used for the detection of primary or secondary adrenocortical insufficiency. The acquisition cost of US$8.0 million will be financed out of Drug Royalty’s existing working capital.

VSM MedTech (Vancouver), a leader in the development of noninvasive medical devices, today announced the appointment of Rod Campbell as the company’s new chief financial officer.

MethylGene (Montreal) announced the appointment of Dr Robert Deziel as vice-president of discovery chemistry. Dr Deziel was formerly senior director of research at Neokimia and Origenix Technologies He has over 18 years of experience in drug discovery at Boehringer Ingelheim Canada and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

CryoCath Technologies (Montreal) announced that it has filed a preliminary prospectus with the securities commissions of each of the provinces of Canada in connection with its previously announced bought deal of common shares. The offering is being sold through a syndicate of underwriters led by Orion Securities and including BMO Nesbitt Burns National Bank Financial RBC Capital Markets and Dlouhy Merchant Group Cryocath will issue 4,500,000 common shares at a price of $5.60 per common share, resulting in gross proceeds to CryoCath of $25,200,000.

MDS Pharma Services, (Montreal) has named Gillian Walley, PhD, director of proposals and contracts, global clinical development – Europe.

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).