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Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Miragen Therapeutics, Pro-Pharmaceuticals, BioCancell

Alnylam Publishes Data on Malaria Infection, Anti-Parasitic Effect of RNAi Therapies
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals said this week that a team of company researchers has published data showing that the gene heme oxygenase-1 is a critical host factor involved in the liver stage of malaria infection in a mouse model.
Additionally, “results from the studies showed that RNAi therapeutics that silence HO-1 can significantly inhibit the initial liver stage of malaria infection and completely block the resulting transmission of disease to red blood cells,” Alnylam said.
Also contributing to the research, which appeared in this month’s Cell Host & Microbe, were investigators from Unidade de Malaria in Portugal, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Roche Kulmbach, formerly Alnylam Europe.
"We are thrilled to publish these new data for this serious global health problem, as RNAi technology and, potentially RNAi therapeutics, could lead to new treatment options," Victor Kotelianski, vice president of research at Alnylam, said in a statement.

Miragen Closes $8M Series A Financing Round
Miragen Therapeutics, a Colorado-based startup developing microRNA drugs for cardiovascular diseases, has closed an $8 million Series A round of financing.
RNAi News first reported that the company was nearing completion of the financing last week (see RNAi News, 5/15/2008).
The Series A was co-led by founding investors Atlas Venture and Boulder Ventures, and includes additional investments from private individuals, Miragen said. The funding will be used to expand the company’s initial research and development programs.

Opko Reports Higher Q1 Loss on Increased Expenses
Opko Health last week reported its first-quarter financial results, posting revenues of $2.8 million versus zero revenues in the year-ago period.
Results for the first quarter of 2007 have been adjusted to include those of Acuity Pharmaceuticals and Froptix, which Opko acquired last year (see RNAi News, 3/29/2007).
The company also posted a jump in its net loss to $10.9 million, or $0.06 per share, from $249,945, or $3.87 per share, year over year.
Selling, general, and administrative expenses totaled $5.3 million, up from $90,000, while research and development spending was $4.4 million, down from $6.1 million.
As of March 31, Opko had cash and cash equivalents of $14.6 million.

Pro-Pharmaceuticals, BioCancell to Develop Cancer Therapy with RNAi Component
Pro-Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has formed a collaboration with Israeli cancer therapeutics firm BioCancell to develop intravenous, siRNA-based cancer treatment.
According to Pro-Pharmaceuticals, the alliance will combine its proprietary polysaccharide polymer Davanat, which targets galectin receptors on cancer cells, with BioCancell’s BC-819 technology, which comprises a plasmid designed to express a toxin selectively within tumor cells.
The companies plan to join these technologies with siRNAs to develop a combination therapy for cancer.
Specific terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

The Scan

Missed Early Cases

A retrospective analysis of blood samples suggests early SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been missed in the US, the New York Times reports.

Limited Journal Editor Diversity

A survey finds low diversity among scientific and medical journal editors, according to The Scientist.

How Much of a Threat?

Science writes that need for a provision aimed at shoring up genomic data security within a new US bill is being questioned.

PNAS Papers on Historic Helicobacter Spread, Brain Development, C. difficile RNAs

In PNAS this week: Helicobacter genetic diversity gives insight into human migrations, gene expression patterns of brain development, and more.