Biogen Idec (BIIB) began a Phase III study of its investigational cancer drug in patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma [NHL]. The compound, called galiximab, is an anti-CD80 monoclonal antibody. It will be given to 700 NHL patients who have failed an earlier therapy. Galiximab will be administered as an adjunct to Rituxan and compared to Rituxan by itself. The trial is governed by a special protocol assessment that Biogen Idec reached with the FDA in July 2006. Because the CE80 target is found in Hodgkin’s disease cells as well as NHL, Biogen Idec will test the drug in additional indications. Biogen Idec fell $1 to $47.79.
Oculus Innovative Sciences (OCLS) priced its IPO (see story) at $8 per share, the bottom of its lowered range. The underwriters successfully placed just over 3 million shares. In open market trading, Oculus moved 20 cents below the IPO price to $7.80, giving the company a market capitalization of $93 million.
Vion Pharma (OTC:VION) will continue a Phase II test of Cloretazine in elderly patients who suffer from poor-risk acute myelogenous leukemia [AML]. The trial was designed to enroll 85 patients if the first 42 patients produced at least nine responses, a level that was achieved. The trial will now proceed to enroll all 85 patients. Vion edged up 2 cents to $1.53.
BioCryst Pharma (BCRX) has begun testing the intramuscular formulation of peramivir, its seasonal/pandemic flu treatment, in a Phase II trial. The trial of the influenza neuraminidase inhibitor is supported by a recently announced $102.6 million four-year HHS grant to develop the flu drug. BioCryst dropped 16 cents to $10.33.
Schering-Plough (SGP) received some high-profile exposure when the New England Journal of Medicine published two studies showing that Noxafil was effective against invasive fungal infections [IFIs]. The drug was given as a prophylactic to patients who were at high risk for Aspergillus and Candida infections. Because of the difficulty in diagnosing fungal infections, the infections are often caught late, which increases their mortality. The studies were the basis for the FDA approval of Noxafil in 2006. Schering-Plough was off 14 cents at $25.12.
Cardinal Health (CAH) will sell its contract manufacturing business for $3.3 billion to the Blackstone Group, one of the largest private equity investors. The deal includes some 10,000 employees, 30 facilities and annual revenues of $1.8 billion. Cardinal Health gained $2.39 to close the day at $72.42.
Cytori Therapeutics (CYTX) received 510(K) clearance for an adipose tissue processing system. The device is part of the larger Celution system that is CE marked in Europe. Celution takes adipose tissue from a patient and processes out stem cells from the small sample, which are suitable for re-introduction into the patient. Cytori will begin clinical trials this year to show the process is beneficial in cardiovascular disease and breast reconstruction. Cytori bucked the prevailing trend and moved higher, rising 39 cents to $5.84, a gain of 7%.
Stocks moved lower across a broad front in Thursday’s session. The Centient Biotech 200™ fell 33 points to 4065, a loss of .82%. In relative terms, that was a decent showing. The S&P 500 was down by 1.13% and Nasdaq was off 1.30%.