Biotech Stocks Review: Amphora Sells Oncology Program to Genentech

by: Centient Biotech Investor

Amphora Discovery Corporation sold an entire oncology program to Genentech (Private:DNA). Few details were released about the transaction, but it is known that the program includes a specified target, and the compound has the potential to treat multiple oncology indications. Terms were not disclosed. Amphora said the drug was “one of their early stage programs.”

Monday, Genentech built its pipeline by partnering with Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ:SGEN) on a multiple myeloma drug candidate. Genentech closed with an 89 cent gain at $84.69.

AtheroGenics (AGIX) fell after announcing that it would not provide information on AGI-1067, its drug candidate for coronary artery disease, until late in the first quarter. The release threw cold water on speculation that a summary report would be released soon, an expectation that had sent AthereoGenics sharply higher over the past few weeks. AtheroGenics reaffirmed that it hopes to present data at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions in March 2007. AtheroGenics fell 10%, dropping $1.26 to end at $11.20.

Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB) began treating patients in a Phase III trial of BG-12, an oral fumarate aimed at relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. The two-year study will commence in Europe and then start in the US later this year, eventually enrolling over 2,000 patients. Biogen Idec was off 52 cents at $49.50.

Xoma (NASDAQ:XOMA) began a dose-escalating Phase I/II trial of Neuprex in patients who receive allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation [HSCT]. Neuprex neutralizes endotoxin, and it has the goal of reducing graft-versus-host disease. In HCST, stem cells are radiated to a level that can cause acute radiation syndrome, which Neuprex is designed to treat. Xoma ended unchanged at $2.19.

InterMune (NASDAQ:ITMN) completed large-scale synthesis and delivery of the active ingredient of its hepatitis C virus drug candidate, currently in a Phase Ia trial. The event triggers a $10 million milestone from Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY), its partner in ITMN-19. The drug is a protease inhibitor. InterMune was 8 cents higher at $30.49.

Alnylam (NASDAQ:ALNY) has in-licensed the liposomal delivery technology from Inex, a Canadian company [TSX:IEX]. Alnylam will use the technology in its search for RNAi therapeutics. From Alnylam, Inex will receive three InterfeRx [TM] license options to develop its own RNAi therapeutic products. Inex will also receive exclusive access to Alnylam's intellectual property to develop oligonucleotide drugs that act by stimulating the immune system, outside the RNAi pathway. Alnylam was up 9%, climbing $1.81 to $22.22, but the news absolutely lit a fire under Inex which ended the day with a 77% gain, after moving up 27 cents to $.62.

BioWa and Medarex (MEDX) received an FDA go-ahead to begin clinical trials of MDX-1401, a fully human antibody that targets CD30-positive lymphomas. The trial will be conducted among patients with relapsed/refractory Hodgkin’s disease. BioWa contributed its Potelligent Technology to the molecule, a technology that increases the tumor cell killing activity of the compound. Medarex was unchanged at $13.95.

The Medicines Company (NASDAQ:MDCO) announced that Cleviprex met its endpoints in three Phase III safety trials. Cleviprex is an IV-administered ultrashort-acting calcium channel blocker designed to treat severely elevated blood pressure in a hospital. The company expects to file for approval and begin a Phase IV test of the drug later this year. The Medicines Company rose 39 cents to $32.98.

After trading both higher and lower, biotech ended the day with a slight gain. The Centient Biotech 200™ closed 2 points higher at 3990, an increase of .06%. The broad market was split, with the S&P 500 sliding by .05%, but Nasdaq up .23%.

Disclosure: Centient management holds a position in Genentech shares and does consulting work for Genentech.