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Asuragen, Merck, Regulus, Sigma-Aldrich

Asuragen to Develop Cancer Diagnostic for Merck
Asuragen said this week that it has signed a deal to develop a biomarker and pharmacogenomic test for Merck.
Under the deal, Asuragen will develop a diagnostic assay based on an undisclosed expression signature identified by Merck. Merck will use the assay, which is expected to be completed in 2008, in clinical trials. Asuragen said the assay might also have potential as a companion diagnostic test for cancer therapies.
Asuragen will receive an undisclosed upfront fee under the arrangement, as well as milestones.
Additional terms were not disclosed.

Merck Accepting Abstracts for siRNA Delivery Technology Forum
Merck announced this week that it is accepting abstracts for an upcoming symposium on the targeted delivery of siRNA.
The symposium will be held next June during the Nanotech 2008 meeting in Boston. Merck is sponsoring the event as part of an effort to identify and acquire enabling technology for its RNAi-based therapeutics programs.
Abstracts for the symposium are due by December 6.

Regulus Publishes Data Showing Potential of miRNA as Drug Targets
Regulus Therapeutics, a microRNA therapeutics joint venture between Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Isis Pharmaceuticals (see RNAi News, 9/13/2007), announced this week the publication of animal data suggesting that viral miRNAs could be therapeutic targets.
According to Regulus, in the study miRNAs encoded by mouse cytomegalovirus were isolated and characterized from infected fibroblasts.
“These viral microRNAs increased over time during infection and became even more abundant than some of the most highly expressed host-derived microRNAs suggesting that the viral microRNAs have an important role during viral infection,” the company said.
“Viral microRNAs that are highly expressed during infection may compete with the function of cellular microRNAs, and therefore perturb the fine-tuned regulation of certain biological pathways to the advantage of the virus,” it added. “The infection of mice with CMV can now be used to study the role of viral microRNAs in viral infections and as a model to evaluate microRNA therapeutics.”
The research, which Regulus performed in collaboration with investigators from Max von Pettenkofer Institute for Virology in Munich and the National Center for Scientific Research in Strasbourg, will appear in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Virology.

Sigma-Aldrich's Q3 Revenues, R&D Spend Rise 14 Percent as Profit Grows 5 Percent
Sigma-Aldrich this week said third-quarter revenue rose 14 percent as R&D spending increased 14 percent and profit widened 5 percent.
Total revenues for the three months ended Sept. 30 increased to $503.2 million from $441.4 million year over year.
R&D spending increased to $15 million from $13.2 million year over year.
The company said profit increased to $71.6 million from $68.4 million in the year-ago period. 
Sigma-Aldrich said it had around $202.8 million in cash and equivalents as of Sept. 30.
The company said it expects organic sales to grow around 7 percent in the fourth quarter and for the full fiscal year.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.