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Ohio State University, Arno Therapeutics, AstraZeneca, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Intradigm Corporation, MIT, CS-Keys, Quantum Genomics, Inserm, StemCells, OHSU’s Casey Eye Institute, Calibrant Biosystems, Cleveland Clinic

OSU Licenses Small Molecules to Arno Therapeutics
Ohio State University has granted Arno Therapeutics exclusive rights to develop a collection of small molecules into orally available, targeted therapies for cancer, OSU and Arno said this week.
Under the agreement, OSU has granted Fairfield, NJ-based Arno the rights to several
small molecules for the treatment of cancer, including OSU-03012 (NSC D728209) and OSU-HDAC42 (NSC D736012), both of which were developed by Ching-Shih Chen, a professor of pharmacy and internal medicine at OSU and a researcher in the school’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Terms of the license agreement call for Arno to pay development-based milestones and royalties based on future sales of the licensed products. Additional financial details were not disclosed.
OSU-03012 is a PDK-1 inhibitor that targets the Akt pathway and possesses activity in alternate pathways to target apoptosis and angiogenesis. OSU-HDAC42 is a broad-spectrum histone-deacetylase inhibitor. Arno said that in preclinical studies, OSU-HDAC42 has demonstrated greater potency and a competitive profile in solid and liquid tumors when compared with vorinostat, the leading marketed compound in the class.
Arno plans to initiate Phase I clinical trials for both OSU-03012 and OSU- HDAC42 in 2009, the company said.

AstraZeneca and MD Anderson Forge Broad Research Collaboration
AstraZeneca and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have entered into an undisclosed number of collaborative agreements that will focus on pre-clinical and clinical research on new treatments for cancer, MD Anderson said recently.
The renewable, three-year agreements will specifically focus on aerodigestive diseases, such as lung cancer, head and neck cancers, or colorectal cancers, the school said.
Financial terms of the agreements were not disclosed.
This is the third of several planned new alliances by AstraZeneca with leading academic and research institutions to address unmet medical needs through cutting-edge research across several disease areas, including Alzheimer's disease, chronic pain, and psychiatric illnesses, according to a statement.

Intradigm Licenses RNAi Technology from MIT
Intradigm Corporation has licensed rights to a nucleic acid delivery patent from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for use in RNAi drug development, the company said recently.
Intradigm, based in Palo Alto, said the IP covers a broad range of biodegradable polymer structures that are used in delivering RNAi-based therapeutics. It added that the license would enable it to pursue applications for its NanoPlex technology across a broader range of therapeutic indications.
Intradigm’s RNAi Nanoplex technology is made of an active siRNA molecule and a biodegradable polycationic polymer.
The company said it will use the licensed technology to “identify, develop, and commercialize optimal delivery platforms.”
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Indiana University Spinout CS-Keys Snags $6.3M in Funding for Cancer Dx
Indianapolis-based company CS-Keys has gained nearly $6.3 million in Series A financing from previous and new investors, the company said this week.
The cash infusion will fund the company’s initial product offering, the caPCNA Key Stain, a stain used to help pathologists detect the occurrence and re-occurrence of several types of cancer, including colorectal, breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers.
CS-Keys grew out of research at Indiana University, from which the company has licensed specific intellectual property related to its technology platform.
The financing round included investments from Triathlon Medical Ventures, which seeded the company, Clarian Health Ventures, Prolog Ventures, Ceres Venture Fund, and Spring Mill Venture Partners.
The company also is developing other biomarker-based diagnostics, including the caPCNA Elisa and caPCNA Cytology products.

Quantum Genomics Partners with French Institutes for Stroke, Cardiac Ischemia Treatments
Quantum Genomics last week announced a research agreement with Inserm, the French national institute for health and medical research; and the Universities Paris Descartes and Paris XII Val-de-Marne, to develop treatments for stroke and cardiac ischemia.
Specifically, Quantum Genomics and the French institutes will co-develop QGC002, a recombinant protein derived from discoveries led by Brigitte Onteniente (Inserm Unit 549, Paris Descartes) and Alain Berdeaux (Inserm Unit 841, Paris XII Val-de-Marne).
Under the terms of the agreement, QGC retains the right to acquire intellectual property developed by Inserm and to use associated know-how. QGC will fund and conduct preclinical development and drug manufacturing, while the Inserm teams will handle pharmacological studies in animal models.
Additional financial details were not disclosed.

OHSU’s Casey Eye Institute to Evaluate StemCells’ Retinal Degeneration Treatment
StemCells said last week that it has entered into a research collaboration with the Oregon Health and Science University’s Casey Eye Institute to evaluate the company’s HuCNS-SC purified human neural stem cells as a potential treatment for retinal degeneration.
Under the collaboration, the parties will evaluate engraftment and function of HuCNS-SC cells in the same rat model preparatory to planned clinical trials. The research, which is expected to conclude by the end of the year, will be conducted by Professors Raymond Lund and Peter Francis at the Casey Eye Institute.
Additional details were not disclosed.

Calibrant Biosystems and Cleveland Clinic to ID Brain Cancer Drug Targets
Calibrant Biosystems last week announced a research collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic to identify drug targets for primary brain cancer using Calibrant’s Gemini proteomics platform.
Under the agreement, Calibrant will identify protein networks and novel therapeutic targets involved in the progression of the most common and aggressive primary brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, the company said.
Calibrant’s collaborator at the Cleveland Clinic is Robert Weil, chair of brain tumor research and director of laboratory research in the clinic’s brain tumor and neuro-oncology center.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The Scan

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.

Study Explores Animated Digital Message Approach to Communicate Genetic Test Results to Family Members

In the Journal of Genetic Counseling, the approach showed promise in participants presented with a hypothetical scenario related to a familial hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome diagnosis.

Computational Tool Predicts Mammalian Messenger RNA Degradation Rates

A tool called Saluki, trained with mouse and human messenger RNA data, appears to improve mRNA half-life predictions by taking RNA and genetic features into account, a Genome Biology paper reports.

UK Pilot Study Suggests Digital Pathway May Expand BRCA Testing in Breast Cancer

A randomized pilot study in the Journal of Medical Genetics points to similar outcomes for breast cancer patients receiving germline BRCA testing through fully digital or partially digital testing pathways.