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American Society for Cell Biology, Allele Biotechnology, Marcus Evans, Invitrogen, AVI BioPharma, Affymetrix and Arcturus


American Society for Cell Biology Meeting to Include RNAi Technology Sessions

The 43rd annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology, being held on Dec. 13-17, is slated to feature a number of presentations on RNA interference.

Among those presenting overviews on their technology are Superarray, Mirus, Stratagene, and Dharmacon. Additionally, tutorial sessions covering various aspects of the technology will be held, including New Tools for Micro RNA Analysis by Ambion and RNA Interference and Fluorescent Reporters: New Technologies for Functional Protein Analysis by Invitrogen.

The event is being held in San Francisco at the Moscone Convention Center. Details about the meeting can be found at

Allele Applies for Phase II NIH Grant for Transfection System

Allele Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals has finished preparing this week an application for a phase II NIH grant to support development of a system for delivering siRNA-expressing cassettes into cells using transducing peptides.

The company received in August a phase I grant for roughly $100,000. With that grant set to expire in January, Allele CEO Jiwu Wang told RNAi News, an application for a phase II grant has now been submitted to the NIH.

Marcus Evans Conference to Include RNAi Discussion

Marcus Evans is organizing a conference on Jan. 22-24 called Future Challenges of Target Validation, which will include discussions of RNAi technologies and optimization.

The event is being held in London. Speakers slated to attend include Thomas Rudel, scientific advisor of functional genomics firm RNAx and Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology researcher.

Event details can be found at

Invitrogen to Provide Financial Guidance Next Week

Invitrogen is scheduled to provide financial guidance for its expected 2004 performance on Dec. 10.

The company’s presentation, and a subsequent question and answer session, will be broadcast live over the internet and via telephone.

Details about accessing the event can be found at the investor relations section of Invitrogen’s website at

AVI BioPharma Antisense Drug Appears Effective Against Feline Calicivirus

AVI BioPharma said this week that one of its experimental antisense compounds successfully promoted survival in kittens with feline calicivirus.

According to the company, the antisense drug targeting calicivirus was provided to the Greenhill Humane Society shelter in Eugene, Ore., which closed due to an outbreak of the virus. The drug was administered to infected kittens once a day for five days, said AVI. Veterinarians observed that of the 20 kittens that received the drug, 17 survived. Of the roughly 30 kittens not treated, all died within 96 hours of onset of symptoms.

“The results we observed in this trial are statistically significant and represent additional supportive data demonstrating the efficacy of our ... antisense technology,” Patrick Iversen, senior vice president of R&D at AVI, said in a statement. “Feline calicivirus is an appropriate model of human norovirus — Norwalk virus — the virus that continues to plague the cruise ship industry. These results are indicative of the broad utility of our compounds to combat single-stranded RNA viruses.”

Affymetrix to Develop Gene Expression Tools with Arcturus

Affymetrix said this week that it has inked a deal with Arcturus to develop tools that permit gene expression analysis on paraffin-embedded clinical biopsy samples. The tools, the company said, will use Arcturus reagents and a new Affymetrix custom human array.

Financial terms of the transaction were not given.

AVI BioPharma Signs Deals to Sell $15 Million in Stock

AVI BioPharma said this week that it has signed agreements to sell to several institutional investors 3,246,753 shares of its common stock at $4.62 per share.

The investors are also to receive five-year warrants to purchase 974,026 shares of common stock at an exercise price of $5.50 per share, said AVI. Additionally, the investors will receive investment right warrants to purchase up to an additional 1,623,377 shares of common stock at $4.62 per share.

The additional investment right warrants are exercisable for 30 trading days after the closing of the transaction.

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.