Week of June 20, 2011: Company and People Notes: Array BioPharma Restructures to Focus on Development of Clinical Programs; AstraZenica Plans Russian Expansion; and More.

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Array BioPharma Restructures to Focus on Development of Clinical Programs; AstraZenica Plans Russian Expansion; and More.

Company Notes

Array BioPharma, a biopharmaceutical company, is restructuring to focus on the development of its clinical programs. The company intends to advance ARRY-520, a KSP inhibitor for multiple myeloma, ARRY-614, a p38/Tie-2 inhibitor for myelodysplastic syndrome, and MEK162, an MEK inhibitor for cancer in codevelopment with Novartis. The restructuring will result in a reduction of Array's staff by approximately 20%, or 70 employees, which are primarily in discovery research and support positions.

AstraZeneca plans to establish a Predictive Science Center in St. Petersburg, Russia, during the next year. The center will be staffed with 30 employees and focus on developing bioinformatics, data-analysis methods, software, and systems to help predict the safety and efficacy of potential new medicines. Earlier this year, the company began construction of a $150-million manufacturing facility in the Kaluga region to supply locally manufactured medicines in Russia.

Bioscale, a provider of protein-measurement technology, has opened a new 30,000-ft2 laboratory and manufacturing facility in Lexington, Massachusetts. The facility will house research and development, applications development, and instrument manufacturing of analytical tools used in protein research. The company also will manufacture its consumable MEMS sensor cartridges and reagents used in the analysis of proteins at the Lexington site.

Bristol-Myers Squibb received FDA approval for Nulojix (belatacept), a biologic-based drug to treat organ rejection. Nulojix will be available as 250-mg lyophilized powder.

The contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) Catalent Pharma Solutions and Cevec Pharmaceuticals, a provider of human protein expression systems derived from amniocytes, are collaborating on a joint commercial cell-line development service. The service combines Cevec's human cell line, CAP-Technology, with Catalent's GPEx technology to generate high-expression, stable human cell lines.

Endo Pharmaceuticals, a specialty pharmaceutical company, has completed its $2.9-billion acquisition of American Medical Systems, a producer of medical devices and therapies for male and female pelvic health.


GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to acquire the remaining 51% equity interest of Shenzhen Neptunus Interlong Bio-Technique (Neptunus), a Chinese vaccine company, in the companies' joint venture, Shenzhen GSK–Neptunus Biologicals (GSKNB), for £24 million ($39 million). After approval of this agreement by the Chinese authorities, GSK will become the sole owner of GSKNB.

The biopharmaceutical company Ligand Pharmaceuticals has formed a commercial supply agreement with Merck & Co. for clinical and commercial supplies of Captisol (cyclodextrin) for an undisclosed program. Pending regulatory approval, Ligand expects to deliver multiple metric tons of Captisol annually.

Sanofi has entered into a two-year research collaboration with Audion Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company, to develop potential treatments for hearing loss through the optimization of small molecules by using a regenerative medicine approach. This pact will use technology developed at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in the Eaton–Peabody Laboratory. Under the terms of the agreement, Sanofi has an option to license technology rights from Audion related to research conducted under the collaboration.

The biopharmaceutical company Synageva BioPharma and the biopharmaceutical company Trimeris have agreed to merge in an all-stock transaction. Upon closing, the combined company will be named Synageva BioPharma Corp., and will operate under the Synageva management team, with Sanj K. Patel serving as the president and CEO. In addition, the company's board of directors will have representatives from both the existing Synageva and Trimeris boards.

The biopharmaceutical company Vertex Pharmaceuticals has formed a licensing agreement with Alios BioPharma, a biotechnology company, for ALS-2200 and ALS-2158, two oral drugs to treat hepatitis C, and which are expected to enter clinical development later this year. As part of the agreement, Alios will receive a $60 million up-front payment from Vertex for the worldwide rights to ALS-2200 and ALS-2158. Vertex is responsible for development costs related to ALS-2200 and ALS-2158 and will also provide research funding to Alios. In addition, Alios would be eligible to receive research and development milestone payments up to $715 million if both compounds are approved. Vertex expects to pay approximately $35 million in development milestones in 2011. Alios is also eligible to receive up to $750 million in sales milestones on sales of all approved medicines under the collaboration. The agreement also includes tiered royalties on product sales.

Vetter Pharma, a CDMO, has installed three additional lyophilizers at the company's Ravensburg Vetter South facility in Ravensburg, Germany, doubling its number of freeze-dryers. The site is expected to produce up to 24 million lyophilized units annually, and the new equipment increases the number of lyophilizers across all Vetter facilities by 30%.