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Alnylam, MIT, Sigma-Aldrich, Fisher, Qiagen


Alnylam Posts Higher Q3 Losses on Increased R&D Spending

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals reported this week financial results for the third quarter, posting a slight increase in revenues but higher losses as research and development spending climbed.

The company's revenues in the quarter were $1.4 million, versus $1.36 million in the year-ago quarter.

Alnylam's net loss in the third quarter rose to $10.7 million, or $0.51 per share, up from a net loss of $6.4 million, or $0.33 per share, in the same quarter last year. The increase in losses reflect increased external research costs associated with the company's efforts to file a new drug application for its respiratory syncytial virus, as well as work in other therapeutic areas. For the third quarter, Alnylam's total R&D costs jumped to $8 million from $4.8 million a year earlier.

As of Sept. 30, 2005, Alnylam had cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities worth $24.8 million. This figure does not include the $68.5 million of gross proceeds received from Novartis under the companies' alliance, which was finalized in October 2005 (see RNAi News, 9/9/2005).

In light of the Novartis deal, Alnylam has increased its year-end cash guidance to more than $75 million from previous guidance of more than $25 million.

MIT Fires RNAi Researcher for Research Misconduct

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced late last month that it has fired RNAi researcher Luk Van Parijs for research misconduct.

According to MIT, an investigation launched in August 2004 after undisclosed members of his research group brought forth allegations of the misconduct revealed that Van Parijs fabricated and falsified data in a paper and several peer-reviewed journal manuscripts, as well as grant applications.

Van Parijs was working on the use of high-throughput RNAi as a tool to understand the genetics of diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

MIT noted that its investigation did not reveal misconduct on the part of Van Parijs' colleagues or co-authors.

"In this case a single individual admitted that he fabricated and falsified data," Alice Gast, associate provost and vice president for research, said in a statement. "We are very concerned that his actions not cast a shadow over his co-authors or members of his research group, none of whom was involved in the misconduct."

Van Parijs could not be reached for comment.

Sigma-Aldrich CEO to Step Down in January; COO Nagarkatti to Take Helm

Sigma-Aldrich Chairman and CEO and chairman David Harvey will step down as CEO in January, but will remain as chairman, the company said this week.

Jai Nagarkatti, the company's sitting president and chief operating officer, will take over as president and CEO beginning Jan. 1, the company said. Nagarkatti was also elected to the board.

According to the St. Louis-based life sciences company, Nagarkatti has been with Sigma-Aldrich for nearly 30 years, holding positions in R&D, production, operations, and sales and marketing. He has been serving as COO and president since August 2004.

Fisher's Q3 Revenues Grow 13 Percent as Profit More Than Doubles

Fisher Scientific this week reported a 13-percent increase in revenues, and more than doubled its net income for the three months ended Sept. 30.

Fisher's revenues for the third quarter rose to $1.4 billion from $1.26 billion in the same period a year ago.

Net income also surged to $94 million, or $0.77 per basic share, from $36 million, or $0.36 per basic share in the year-ago period.

Fisher Scientific had approximately $189.2 million in cash and cash investments as of Sept. 30.

The company did not report R&D expenditures for the quarter.

Qiagen's Q3 Revenues Grow 7 Percent as Profit Spikes 40 Percent

Qiagen this week reported a 9-percent increase in sales and 40-percent spike in net profit in the third quarter.

Revenues for the three months ended Sept. 30 increased to $98.7 million from $90.4 million in the year-ago period. Qiagen said that unfavorable currency exchange rates cost the company $3.1 million in sales revenue. The company had provided guidance of $101.8 million in revenues earlier in the year.

Qiagen's net income for the third quarter jumped 40 percent to $17.6 million, or $0.12 per share, from $12.6 million, or $0.09 per share, in the third quarter last year.

"Reported revenues were slightly below the company's guidance ... as two of our OEM partners in molecular diagnostics further delayed certain product launches which include Qiagen instrument and consumable products," Roland Sackers, Qiagen's CFO, said in a statement.

Qiagen added that these delays led to a shortfall of approximately $2 million this quarter, primarily in instrumentation, which translated to a 14-percent drop in the growth of its instrumentation business. The company also said that there was a "good probability" that the delayed product launches will occur late this year or in early 2006.

The company's consumables business, which contributed about 89 percent to net sales, grew about 15 percent in the third quarter compared to Q3 last year.

The Scan

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Circulating Tumor DNA Linked to Post-Treatment Relapse in Breast Cancer

Post-treatment detection of circulating tumor DNA may identify breast cancer patients who are more likely to relapse, a new JCO Precision Oncology study finds.

Genetics Influence Level of Depression Tied to Trauma Exposure, Study Finds

Researchers examine the interplay of trauma, genetics, and major depressive disorder in JAMA Psychiatry.

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.