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Acuity Pharmaceuticals, Alnylam, Exiqon, IDT, ERCC

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Acuity Completes Enrollment in Phase II AMD Trial;
Begins Pilot Phase II Study in Diabetic Macular Edema

Acuity Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has completed patient enrollment in a phase II trial of its siRNA-based treatment for age-related macular degeneration. The company also said that it has begun testing the drug, called Cand5, in a pilot phase II study for diabetic macular edema.

The AMD trial is a randomized, double-masked study that has enrolled 129 patients at 28 sites across the US. Patient data and study results are expected by mid-year.

The diabetic macular edema trial is a 48-patient, multi-center, double-masked, and randomized trial studying three dose levels of Cand5. It is expected to be completed by the end of 2006.


Alnylam Prices Public Offering of Stock at $13 a Share

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals this week priced a public offering of 5,115,961 shares of its common stock at $13 a share, for gross proceeds of roughly $66.5 million.

The company has also granted the underwriters of the offering a 30-day option to purchase an additional 767,394 shares to cover over-allotments.

All of the shares are being offered by the company pursuant to an effective shelf registration statement previously filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.


Exiqon Announces Participation in miRNA Dx Consortium

Exiqon said last week that it is participating in a microRNA research consortium, supported by a $1.6 million grant from the Danish Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation, focused on developing new miRNA diagnostic tools.

The consortium includes the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University Hospital, Bioneer, Exiqon, Visiopharm, and Steno Diabetes Center, Exiqon said. The total budget of the effort will be more than $5 million.


IDT Closes Synthegen Acquisition

Integrated DNA Technologies said this week that it has completed its acquisition of oligonucleotide supplier Synthegen.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.


ERCC Calls for RNA Control Test Sites

The External RNA Controls Consortium announced last week that it is looking for sites to test external RNA controls.

"At first, we will be looking for volunteers from commercial manufacturers," said ERCC chairholder Janet Warrington. The organization said applications are due March 30.

According to the ERCC, the first phases of testing will be limited to microarray and QRT-PCR production sites. Applications for other non-manufacturing or non-production sites will be accepted later this year.


Correction:

RNAi News incorrectly reported last week that Genesis Research and Development was founded in September 2000. The company was actually founded in 1994, and has been trading on the Australian Stock Exchange and New Zealand Stock Exchange since 2000.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.