Biotech news was thin, and health indices were flat midweek despite a halted clinical program and a few stock offerings and business deals. Immtech Pharmaceuticals' (IMM) stock took a beating Wednesday after the company announced the Food and Drug Administration put a clinical hold on its development program for pafuramidine, an experimental treatment in late-stage studies for Pneumocystis pneumonia and African sleeping sickness.The company said preliminary findings from a safety study revealed abnormal laboratory values in several volunteers following treatment with the drug, and patients are now being closely monitored for liver values. Shares fell $2.90, or 49.6%, to $2.95. Headed slightly in the other direction, Cubist Pharmaceuticals ( CBST) said Wednesday that it would buy Illumigen Biosciences for $9 million in cash. Cubist expects to file an IND for Illumigen's lead candidate, a Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) treatment, in 2008. Ilumigen will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Cubist, and Cubist will pay Illumigen up to $75.5 million during the development of the HCV treatment. If Cubist develops Illumigen products for things other than HCV, the companies said development and regulatory milestone payments could amount to $117 million. And if any Illumigen product is commercialized, Cubist could pay an additional $140 million in milestone payments. Cubist shares were trading down 48 cents, or 2.2%, at $21.77. The stock is a component of the Nasdaq biotechnology index, which was up 4.01, or 0.5%, at 863.99.
Another component of the index, biopharmaceutical company Dyax ( DYAX), registered for an offering of up to $100 million of its common stock, debt securities and other types of securities, with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company said proceeds could be used for general corporate purposes, including financing its clinical development and discovery programs, although it doesn't have any immediate plans to sell securities under the registration statement. Dyax shares edged down 25 cents, or 6.7%, to $3.47. Meanwhile, biopharmaceutical company NeurogesX ( NGSX) said Wednesday that on Sunday it entered into a securities purchase agreement to privately place more than 4 million shares of common stock at $6.18 a share and five-year warrants to purchase 1.2 million shares at $8.03 for 12.5 cents a piece for a proceeds of roughly $25 million. NeurogesX shares edged up 13 cents, or 2.2%, at $6.17. And elsewhere, Idera Pharmaceuticals ( IDRA) said on Wednesday that its president, Robert Karr, resigned from his position effective December 31. Karr will remain a member of the Company's Board of Directors and a consultant for the company, which recently announced a
collaboration with Merck KGaA. Idera shares added 69 cents, or 6.1%, to $11.94.