Biotech Day In Review: Osiris Stem Cells Treatment Has Unexpected Results

by: Centient Biotech Investor
Osiris Therapeutics (NASDAQ:OSIR) reported that Chondrogen, a stem cell treatment, was not effective in regenerating meniscus in the knee.

The company did say, however, that the treatment was safe, and it seemed to rebuild cartilage and improve joint condition. The same improvement was not seen in any of the placebo patients. In the Phase I/II trial, Chondrogen was injected directly into the knee joint following meniscectomy surgery, with the goal of rebuilding the meniscus. MRI scans did not show any increase in volume in the meniscus in patients who received the treatment, though the unexpected results were observed. Osiris is developing mesenchymal stem cell [MSC] treatments harvested from the bone marrow of human donors (see story). Osiris moved up 19 cents to $18.64.

(IVGN) sold its BioReliance contract research division for $210 million to private equity firm Avista Capital Partners. Invitrogen, a maker of diagnostic tools, bought BioReliance in 2003 for $430 million. Investors applauded the move, sending Invitrogen 10% higher. It gained $5.99 to end at $66.35.

Telik (OTCQB:TELK) fired 25% of its workforce in a cash-saving move. The company will still have 120 employees after the restructuring. The cancer company is developing Telcyta, a tumor-activated small molecule for ovarian and non-small cell lung cancer. Telik slipped 29 cents to $5.70.

Advancis Pharma
(AVNC) said the FDA rejected its new drug application for once-daily Amoxicillin Pulsys, saying the application was not complete. Advancis uses the pulstatile delivery system that administers drugs in staccato bursts (pulses). Advancis maintains that the system is more effective in some applications, including this delivery of an antibiotic. Advancis lost 15%, falling 40 cents to $2.35.

GW Pharma
of the UK [London: GWP] has sold the US rights to its cannabis-based pain drug, Sativex, to Japan’s Otsuka Pharma. Otsuka paid $18 million upfront, and it will make up to $273 million in milestone payments, plus royalties. Sativex is an under-the-tongue spray that is already on the market for multiple sclerosis pain in Canada. In Europe, the drug is under review for use to treat multiple sclerosis spasticity. GW plans to begin Phase II/III trials this year in the US for use of Sativex against cancer pain.

Merck (NYSE:MRK) disclosed that 28 cases of intussusception have occurred among infants and children receiving Rotateq, its new rotavirus vaccine. Intussusception is a prolapsing of one section of the intestine into another, much like sections of a collapsing telescope. The condition is thought to occur in 1 out of 2,000 infants, without Rotateq. In a year on the market, 3.5 million doses of Rotateq have been sold, so Merck says the incidence does not exceed the expected number. Merck moved up 11 cents to $44.06.

(NASDAQ:PPHM) reported that bavituximab was safe and well-tolerated in its Phase Ib trial against hepatitis C. The drug also displayed dose-dependent signs of anti-viral activity. Most hepatitis C treatments seek to stimulate an immune response, but bavituximab targets infected cells and marks them for destruction by the immune system. Peregrine expects to test the drug in conjunction with existing antiviral treatments. Peregrine slid 4 cents to $1.19.

Infinity Pharma
(NASDAQ:INFI) and MedImmune (MEDI) began a Phase I/II trial of IPI-504, an anti-cancer drug and inhibitor of heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90). The trial, the second against a solid tumor, will be conducted in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Infinity edged up 6 cents to $14.30, but MedImmune dropped 21 cents to $31.25.

Halozyme Therapeutics
(HTI) and Baxter Healthcare (NYSE:BAX) expanded their Hylenex recombinant (hyaluronidase human injection) agreements to include the use of Baxter’s small molecule drugs with Hylenex. Hylenex recombinant is an absorption/dispersion agent for injected drugs. Baxter will pay $10 million to Halozyme and make a $20 million equity investment. Other terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The news had a very positive effect on Halozyme. It rose 12%, added 91 cents to end at $8.76.

Favrille (FVRL) will collaborate with the Berlex unit of Bayer (BAY) to study the combination of FavID, the cancer immunotherapy from Favrille, and Leukine, a growth factor from Berlex. The drug will be aimed at B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma [NHL]. Favrille climbed 10%, moving up 33 cents to $3.50, and Bayer ended at $59.79, a 45 cent jump.

Rosetta Genomics (NASDAQ:ROSG) will make another run at its long-delayed IPO. The company, which is developing microRNA-based diagnostic and therapeutic products, raised the number of shares being offered by 25% to 3.75 million shares, and lowered the anticipated price range by 33% to $7.50-$8.50. The IPO is on the docket for next week.

Biohart (OTCPK:BHRT), a biotech that uses cells derived from a patient’s body to treat heart damage, made its initial IPO filing.

Biotech put in a very strong showing. The Centient Biotech 200™ rose 34 points to 4074, an increase of .85%. The S&P 500 gained .76% and Nasdaq was up 1.16%.

Disclosure: none.