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Acuity Pharmaceuticals, CytRx and Biorex Research & Development RT, Benitec, and Invitrogen


Acuity Closes Financing Round, Begins AMD Drug Trial

Acuity Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has closed its $15 million series B round of financing.

The financing was led by Psilos Group Managers, and included new investors Johnson and Johnson Development Corporation, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, Diamond Capital, and Trans-Science, said Acuity. BioAdvance and Ben Franklin Technology Partners converted promissory notes into the Series B round, and a number of other investors from the company’s series A round also participated in the latest financing.

Acuity also said that it has begun the phase I trial of its siRNA-based age-related macular degeneration therapy, Cand5.

CytRx Acquires Assets of Small Molecule Drug Company

CytRx said this week that it has acquired all the clinical and pharmaceutical assets and related intellectual property of Hungary-based small molecule drug developer Biorex Research & Development RT.

The transaction gives CytRx the investigational amyotrophic lateral sclerosis drug arimoclomol, which the company anticipates will enter phase II testing in the second quarter of 2005. CytRx said it has also picked up through the deal a pipeline of at least two additional oral drug candidates at various stages of clinical development up to phase II, a library of 500 small molecule drug candidates, and an extensive intellectual property portfolio.

CytRx said that it paid $3 million for the assets, and has agreed to make milestone payments based on the achievement of certain regulatory filings and approvals related to the acquired products.

Benitec Reports AU$7.5 Million Equity Standby Deal

Benitec said last week that it has signed a term sheet for an AU$7.5 million (about $5.4 million) standby facility with Icon Investors.

The standby facility, Benitec said, provides that the company may require Icon to subscribe for fully paid ordinary shares of up to an aggregate value of AU$7.5 million at a price equal to the volume weighted average share price during a period of up to 20 trading days preceding the issue date discounted by 10 percent.

The maximum number of shares that may be issued under the facility will depend on the market prices of Benitec shares prior to the dates of issue of shares under the equity facility, the company added.

Benitec said that it is not its present intention to draw down the facility, but that it may rely on the facility in the future for purposes of working capital, the expansion of its US operations, or for future acquisitions.

Invitrogen Signs Three New Customers for Gateway Technology, Clones

Invitrogen said last week it will supply Gateway technology and clones to three genomic research centers in the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Terms of the licensing agreements call for the company to offer the platform to Open Biosystems, a US-based distributor of genomic and proteomic research products; the UK Medical Research Council, a UK government-funded medical-research organization; and Ressourcenzentrum fur Genomforschung, a nonprofit German service center for genomics and proteomics research.

Invitrogen’s Gateway technology enables researchers to insert a single entry clone into as many expression vectors as needed to study its function in a variety of ways, according to a company statement.

Invitrogen said additional licensing agreements will be announced in the coming weeks. Financial terms of the agreements were not disclosed.

The Scan

mRNA-Based Vaccine on the Way in China

China may soon have its own mRNA-based vaccine, according to Nature News.

Arranged Killing, Fraud Alleged by Prosecutors

The Wall Street Journal reports that prosecutors allege that the co-founder of a biotech arranged to have a business associate who threatened to expose him as a fraud killed.

Whirlwind Decade of CRISPR

The New York Times looks back at the 10 years since the University of California, Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues published their CRISPR paper.

PNAS Papers on Blue Cone Monochromacy Structural Variants, HIV-1 Mutant, T-ALL

In PNAS this week: structural variants linked to blue cone monochromacy, HIV-1 variants affecting the matrix protein p17, and more.