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Aegera Therapeutics, Pharmion, Hybridon, New York Academy of Sciences, and CytRx


Aegera Closes $15 Million Round of Financing

Aegera Therapeutics said this week that it has closed a $15 million Series C round of financing.

The financing, said the company, was led by VenGrowth Advanced Life Sciences Fund and included new and existing investors. Proceeds of the financing will be used to support the clinical development of Aegera’s lead product candidates, including a phase I antisense cancer drug.

FDA Grants Pharmion’s Demethylating MDS Drug Priority Review

Pharmion said this week that the US Food and Drug Administration has granted a priority review to the company’s new drug application for its demethylating agent Vidaza (azacitidine) as a myelodysplastic syndromes therapy.

Under a priority review, the regulatory agency agrees to make a decision on an NDA within six months. Vidaza, said Pharmion, has already received an orphan drug designation from the FDA, giving the product seven years of exclusivity if approved.

Hybridon Announced Publication of Data Supporting Company’s Antisense Drug Target

Hybridon announced this week the publication of preclinical data showing that the MDM2 oncoprotein decreases the activity of the tumor suppressor protein p21 through physical interaction. MDM2 is the target of Hybridon’s preclinical antisense cancer drug Gem240.

The data were published in the February issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, said Hybridon. The company’s president and CEO, Sudhir Agrawal, co-authored the paper.

“We have shown in previous preclinical studies that the MDM2 antisense oligonucleotide increases the activity of the tumor suppressor protein p21 and has antitumor activity in cancer cells and in mouse xenograft models, independent of p53 genotypes,” Ruiwen Zhang, one of the paper’s authors, said in a statement. “Our current paper establishes in cellular models that MDM2 binds directly to p21 and facilitates proteasome-mediated p21 degradation, which is the biochemical mechanism that destroys p21 activity.”

NYAS Schedules Keynote Speaker for Upcoming RNAi Symposium

The New York Academy of Sciences has selected the University of Missouri’s James Birchler as the keynote speaker for its upcoming RNAi symposium. Birchler is slated to discuss the interrelationship of RNAi and transcriptional gene silencing in Drosophila.

The meeting, entitled “Biochemistry of RNAi,” is a follow up to the NYAS’ first RNAi discussion group meeting in October at Rockefeller University. The meetings are organized under the leadership of Rockefeller’s Thomas Tuschl, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Greg Hannon, and Columbia University’s Timothy Bestor.

The latest RNAi meeting is being held at the New York Academy of Sciences on March 18, between 6:30 and 8 p.m. Abstracts for additional presentations are still be accepted.

Details on registering to attend the event, as well as on submitting an abstract, can be found at

Cytrx Selects PricewaterhouseCoopers as Independent Accountants

CytRx recently announced that it has selected PricewaterhouseCoopers as its new independent accountants.

CytRx said in January that it had dismissed Ernst & Young as its independent auditors. CytRx CFO Kirk Peacock declined to comment on the reasons behind the dismissal, although the company noted in an US Securities and Exchange Commission filing that there were no outstanding issues that accounting firm would have needed to reference in its reports.

The Scan

Push Toward Approval

The Wall Street Journal reports the US Food and Drug Administration is under pressure to grant full approval to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Deer Exposure

About 40 percent of deer in a handful of US states carry antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Millions But Not Enough

NPR reports the US is set to send 110 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses abroad, but that billions are needed.

PNAS Papers on CRISPR-Edited Cancer Models, Multiple Sclerosis Neuroinflammation, Parasitic Wasps

In PNAS this week: gene-editing approach for developing cancer models, role of extracellular proteins in multiple sclerosis, and more.