ALSO NOTED: Merck KGaA has money for deals; Alcon gets FDA OK for hay fever spray;

> Merck KGaA is pursuing acquisitions and licensing deals to shore up growth and has the funding ready to finance any transactions, CEO Karl-Ludwig Kley said. Report

> Alcon's hay fever nasal spray Patanase won FDA approval, with analysts predicting sales growth to $760 million by 2010. Release

> Sales of the Trimeris HIV drug Fuzeon plummeted during the first quarter to $42.7 million from $64.3 million during the first quarter of 2007. Report

> A trial testing Genentech's Rituxan med for use in lupus is due within a few weeks; the med already is approved for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and non-Hodgkins lymphoma, but just failed a trial in MS patients. Report

> Pozen shares leapt Wednesday on news of approval for its migraine drug Treximet after years of back-and-forth with the FDA. Report

> A GlaxoSmithKline-funded study showed that the breast cancer pill Tykerb can reduce disease-causing stem cells. Report

> Pfizer's Lipitor added to the dementia med Aricept showed no additional cognitive benefit for Alzheimer's patients, a new study showed. Report

> A two-year follow-up study of Sanofi-Aventis' Acomplia (aka Rimonabant) found that in the second year patients on average gained weight despite an ongoing 600-calorie deficit in their daily dietary regimens; still, the participants netted a "clinically relevant" weight loss at the end of the two-year study. Report

> San Diego-based Illumina is commercializing three new products aimed at a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that give rise to cancer. Report

> The nexus between academic researchers and investors is a prime breeding ground for biotech start-ups. The Wall Street Journal profiles one prime example: MIT scientist Robert Langer and Polaris Venture Partners' Terry McGuire, who have teamed up on 13 new companies in 15 years. Report

> Score one win for Ontario province in the field of economic development. Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine arm of Sanofi-Aventis, will build a C$100 million R&D facility in Toronto with the province chipping in C$13.9 million through its Biopharmaceutical Investment Program. Report

> Dendreon is making bullish noises about its development efforts. Report

> Just a week after gaining regulatory approval for Lexiscan, CV Therapeutics sold off a 50 percent interest in its North American royalties to TPG-Axon Capital for $175 million and a $10 million milestone payment. Report

And Finally... Scientists have created the first comprehensive libraries of monoclonal antibodies against avian influenza. Report