Vical: Collategene gets OK for late-stage trial; SciClone's shares up on positive Zadaxin news;

> Vical's Japanese partner AnGes MG got a special protocol assessment approval from U.S. health regulators for a late-stage clinical trial of Collategene to treat peripheral arterial disease. The SPA provides a company with a written agreement that the design and analysis of the trial are adequate to support a marketing application submission to the FDA, Vical says. Report

> SciClone Pharmaceuticals says its adjuvant, Zadaxin, in combination with Novartis' H1N1 vaccine increased immune response, sending SciClone's shares up 14 percent. Report

> Nestled in and around this scenic agricultural belt are secret facilities that don't take kindly to visitors. At clandestine farms across Pennsylvania, thousands of roosters and hens have been toiling away for months in confidential conditions normally reserved for important government ops. Their mission: Fertilize enough eggs to keep supplies of swine-flu vaccine flowing. Report

> KINAXO Biotechnologies announced today that it has entered into a second collaboration with Roche Diagnostics GmbH in Penzberg, Germany. Under the agreement, KINAXO will apply its phosphoproteomics technology PhosphoScout to support targeted treatment approaches currently under development at Roche. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed. Release

> MedGenesis Therapeutix Inc. says it's collaborating with Biovail, Canada's largest publicly traded pharmaceutical company, on developing a new way to treat Parkinson's disease. Story

> Nektar Therapeutics today announced promising preliminary results from the first stage of a two-stage Phase II clinical study evaluating NKTR-102 in women with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer.  Story

Pharma News

> Alcon's minority shareholders have tossed a big obstacle in Novartis' path. The investors have filed a class-action lawsuit to slow down the Swiss drugmaker's takeover of the company and force Novartis to pay more for their shares. Story

> EU antitrust regulators are digging deeper in their drugmaker probe. They've asked pharma companies for a "selected number" of patent deals between branded drugmakers and the generics firms trying to knock off their products. Report

> While news has been flying about Pfizer and Merck's cost-cutting and real estate moves since their respective mergers with Wyeth and Schering-Plough, Roche quietly has been shifting jobs and operations, too. The latest: Roche's Genentech unit is going forward on a new building on its South San Francisco campus, at a time when it's moving some jobs to the area from other sites. Story

> More proof that FDA warnings make a difference: Alerts about the risks of antipsychotic drugs appear to have depressed sales by some 19 percent, a new Archives of Internal Medicine study finds. "We concluded that it resulted in a modest reduction," researcher Dr. Ray Dorsey of the University of Rochester Medical Center says. Why modest? In part because antipsychotic scrips still accounted for 9 percent of prescriptions in the elderly in 2008. Report

Biotech Research News 

> With California lawmakers facing a daunting economic challenge, the state's groundbreaking stem cell agency has adopted a simple approach to staying relevant. Rather than finance only blue-sky stem cell research work, Executive Director Alan Trounson wants to support programs that have a shot at near-term clinical success. Story

> Researchers at UC San Diego say that they have created genetically modified embryonic stem cells that more reliably contain target disease genes. And by creating human cells with the disease, the scientists say they can be much more effective than animals for studying genetic diseases. Report

> A scientific team from UCLA is touting a groundbreaking discovery into the role two cellular proteins play in the development of hepatitis C. Heat shock factors 40 and 70 play a big role in infection, the researchers determined. And if new therapies targeted cellular proteins rather than viral proteins, developers could create significant new drugs for hep C. Story

> Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (WFUBMC) have identified the first genetic variant associated with aggressive prostate cancer-a finding that shows genetic information may one day be used in combination with other factors to guide treatment decisions. Report

And Finally... Preliminary research suggests that a combination of compounds in marijuana could help fight off a particularly deadly form of brain cancer. Report