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The companies touted the financial benefits of the transaction, but it appears that the establishment of a broad drug-delivery portfolio attractive to prospective big pharma partners was the primary driver of the deal.

Overview of key RNAi-based therapeutics currently in human trials

According to Silence, the patent's amended claims "no longer cover other chemical modifications and molecular designs not used by Silence and which therefore do not have an impact on Silence’s core business."

Silence said that it "expects the proposed transaction to be treated as a reverse takeover … [and will be] subject to due diligence and would be conditional upon shareholder approval."

Under the terms of the deal, Silence will “demonstrate the functional delivery” of its proprietary siRNA molecules, in combination with its in-house AtuPlex delivery technology, to certain undisclosed targets.

Preparations for the clinical study — the company's first — contributed to a 40 percent rise in research and development spending in 2008, which drove a 45 percent increase in net losses.

Thomas Cech, Jeffery Vick


The US has sent its formal notice of withdrawal from the World Health Organization, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Science reports that a draft spending bill would increase the US National Institutes of Health budget by 13 percent.

The Harvard Crimson reports that Harvard and MIT are suing the Department of Homeland Security and ICE over the new international student visa policy.

In Nucleic Acids Research this week: algorithm to determine molecular sequence types and other microbial features, computational method to uncover R-loop structures, and more.