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RNAi Roundup: Ambion, Cenix Say Genome-Wide siRNA Libraries Available; CytRx Adds Three to Management Team; Agilent, Qiagen Team Up on siRNA Transfection Technology

This article has been updated to provide clarification on Qiagen's siRNA program

NEW YORK, Aug. 29 (GenomeWeb News) - Ambion and Cenix said this week that they have ready for sale siRNAs for more than 98 percent of all human, mouse, and rat genes listed in the public RefSeq database. The news comes about six months after the companies said that they had teamed up to commercialize a human genome-wide library of siRNAs.

"The original project was meant to only deal with the human genome," Cenix CEO and CSO Chris Echeverri told GenomeWeb. "But since then, the relationship between the companies has been getting stronger and stronger, and we've been expanding the scope of our collaboration." Under the companies arrangement, Dresden, Germany-based Cenix is responsible for the siRNA designs their update as the genome is annotated. Ambion, of Austin, Texas, handles all marketing and distribution.

 

According to Echeverri, the designs have been completed for at least three siRNAs per gene in the three genomes. "People can start ordering these now," he said.

 

Cenix and Ambion's announcement comes almost a month after Qiagen reported that it had begun designing a genome-wide siRNA collection for Novartis. At that time, Qiagen's vice president of gene silencing Patrick Weiss told GenomeWeb that it was, as far as he knew, it was the first time a company had undertaken development of a genome-wide siRNA library for a single customer.

 

Qiagen expects the Novartis library to be ready by the end of October.

 


 

A week after naming a full-time CFO, CytRx said that it has expanded its management team by three people, all of whom come from CEO Steve Kriegsman's investment firm, The Kriegsman Group.

 

CytRx said that it has tapped Ed Umali as director of operations, David Haen as director of business operations, and Carolyn French as director of communications.

 

French's position at CytRx is on a full-time basis, while Umali and Haen are expected to continue to provide certain services to The Kriegsman Group on a limited basis.

 

Following its 2002 merger with Global Genomics, CytRx was stripped down by Kriegsman and set on a new course: to develop therapeutics based on RNAi. Part of that overhaul included building a new management team, a task Kriegsman told GenomeWeb has now completed.

 

"All of the slots have been filled," he said. "We've got a team in place to do whatever we need to do."

 

CytRx now has nine employees, he said. This does not include the roughly 10 UMass researchers conducting work for the company under a sponsored research agreement .

 


 

Agilent Technologies and Qiagen said this week that they have combined their respective technologies to develop a system for the optimization and analysis of siRNA transfection.

 

The companies said that they combined Qiagen's TransMessenger and RNAiFect transfection reagents and fluorescently tagged siRNAs with Agilent's 2100 bioanalyzer and LabChip kits. The companies added that they are also working to develop applications using the Agilent 2100 bioanalyzer and Qiagen reagents to monitor the silencing effect of RNAi by antibody staining of cells or analysis of endpoint RT-PCR results.

 


 

EuroForum International is holding on November 17 and 18 an RNAi conference that will bring together representative of both the drug industry and academic institutions to discuss the technology, its current uses, and barriers to its future development.

 

The conference will be held in central London at a venue yet to be confirmed. Speakers will include Chris Echeverri, of Cenix BioScience; Michal Janitz, of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics; Andrew Clifton, from AstraZeneca; and Patricia McLoughlin, of the Roche Center for Medial Genomics.

 

Details about the event, including registration and pricing, can be found here .

 


 

This is the final RNAi Roundup dispatch. Beginning Sept. 5, RNAi Roundup will be expanded into the weekly subscription newsletter RNAi News.  To subscribe, click ///issues/news//119947-1.html"

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