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Exiqon Expects Initial Data from Blood-Based Colon Cancer Dx in Early 2010

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Exiqon this week said it expects initial results from a Danish National Technology Foundation-funded effort to develop a microRNA-based blood diagnostic for colon cancer in the first quarter of 2010.

The disclosure came as part of the company’s announcement of its financial results for the first half of 2009, which included a roughly 32 percent rise in revenues and a 28 percent jump in net losses.

In May, Exiqon reported that it had received DKK24 million ($4.6 million) from the Danish National Technology Foundation to “develop a new biomarker profile based on miRNA in blood that can be used to detect colon cancer at an early stage directly from a blood sample.” Exiqon is conducting the work in collaboration with the Hvidovre Hospital, the University of Copenhagen, and the University Hospital of Aarhus.

In working with the institutions, “we have access to 10,000 relevant serum samples that we are in the progress of analyzing,” Exiqon President and CEO Lars Kongsbak told RNAi News this week in an e-mail.

Although Exiqon said that initial data from the project is expected early next year, Kongsbak added that the company is “not yet ready to release any timeline for the product launch.”

For the six-month period ended June 30, Exiqon’s net loss was DKK81.2 million, or DKK2.68 per share, compared with a net loss of DKK63.5 million, or DKK2.25 per share, in the same period last year.

Revenues in the period climbed to DKK58.5 million from DKK44.474 million in the first half of 2008, partially offsetting a 25 percent increase in research and development spending to DKK34 million and a 20 percent jump in selling, general, and administrative expenses to DKK60.5 million.

As of June 30, Exiqon had cash and cash equivalents totaling approximately DKK101.5 million.

For the full-year 2009, Exiqon said that it expects total revenues in the range of DKK165 million to DKK190 million, with a net loss between DKK115 million and DKK130 million.

The company said it is maintaining its goal of reaching profitability by 2011.

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