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Benitec and GenScript, CytRx, AVI BioPharma, Frost & Sullivan, Siemens and Biomax Informatics, Hybridon, and Innovation Philadelphia and Acuity Pharmaceuticals


Benitec Settles Lawsuit Against GenScript, Signs on Strategic Advisors

Benitec said last month that it has settled its patent infringement lawsuit against GenScript. Under the terms of the settlement, GenScript has taken a global, non-exclusive license to Benitec’s ddRNAi technology.

According to Benitec, the arrangement completely settles all claims the company had asserted against GenScript. Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Benitec sued GenScript under a broader lawsuit filed in March (see RNAi News, 4/2/2004). Ambion, which was also named in the suit, settled with Benitec in August (see RNAi News, 8/13/2004).

No announcement of a settlement with the third defendant named in the lawsuit, Nucleonics, has been made.

Benitec also has announced that it has hired Cappello Capital as the company’s exclusive strategic advisors and investment bankers. Benitec said that Cappello Capital will particularly focus on its entry into the US as a public company, and all associated financial and transactional activities.

CytRx Reports Q2 financial Results

CytRx released last month its second-quarter financial results, posting a drop in revenues to $228,164 from $3 million in the year-ago period.

The company’s net loss for the quarter was $4.1 million, compared with $5 million in the second quarter 2003, while research and development spending dipped to $1.4 million from $2.3 million. R&D costs were higher in the second quarter last year, said CytRx, largely due to expenses associated with RNAi licensing arrangements in April 2003.

As of June 30, CytRx had cash and short-term investments totaling $7.1 million.

In its second-quarter filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, CytRx said that it expects it has sufficient working capital to fund its operations through the first quarter of 2005.

The company added that its strategic alliance with the University of Massachusetts may require “significant expenditures to fund research at that medical institution.” These expenditures are expected to be approximately $2.3 million during 2004, of which $906,000 had been expensed through June 30, said CytRx.

AVI Plans Clinical Study of Antisense Drug Against West Nile Virus

AVI BioPharma said this week that it is planning to initiate a clinical trial evaluating its antisense drug candidate, AVI-4020, as a treatment for patients with acute West Nile virus disease who have serious neurological impairment.

The trial is expected to enroll 50 patients. Forty of the patients will receive AVI-4020 for five days at a daily dose of 90 mg, and the remaining 10 will receive a placebo for five days. The patients will be monitored on a daily basis for safety and disease progression and resolution for seven to 10 days, said AVI, and then periodically for six months.

Frost & Sullivan Schedules RNAi Briefing

Frost & Sullivan has scheduled an analyst briefing, entitled “Strategic Analysis of the Global Oligonucleotides and RNAi Markets: Will They Deliver the Promises of Biotechnology,” for Sept. 7.

The event will feature analyst Raju Adhikari and will include a short teleconference followed by a question and answer period.

Siemens, Biomax Partner on Gene Expression Simulation

German companies Siemens and Biomax Informatics announced last month that they will collaborate in the area of gene expression modeling and simulation.

Under the terms of the agreement, Siemens will use its BioSim gene expression simulator to uncover specific interdependencies in gene expression data, while Biomax will use its BioXM gene expression tool to place the correlations “in a relevant functional and biological context,” the companies said in an official statement.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Lorus Says Antisense Drug Appears Well-Tolerated in Phase II

Lorus Therapeutics said last month that findings from an ongoing phase II trial demonstrate that its antisense drug GTI-2040, being tested in combination with capecitabine in metastatic kidney cancer patients, is well tolerated.

“We are pleased that GTI-2040, in combination with the chemotherapeutic agent capecitabine, is well tolerated even at the maximum target dose established as a single agent,” Jim Wright, CEO of Lorus, said in a statement. “This supports our strategy of developing novel anticancer agents that exhibit minimal additional toxicity when combined with traditional chemotherapies.”

Hybridon Closes $5.1 Million Private Equity Placement

Hybridon said this week that it has raised $5.1 million in gross proceeds from an private placement of equity to institutional and overseas investors.

In the placement, the company sold about 8.8 million shares of common stock at a price of $0.58 per share, as well as warrants to purchase about 1.8 million shares of common stock at an exercise price of $0.67 per share.

The company said it plans to use the proceeds of the offering to advance the clinical development of its immunomodulatory oligonucleotide cancer therapy.

Innovation Philadelphia Invests in Acuity Pharmaceuticals

Innovation Philadelphia, a public/private investment group supported by the city of Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania, said this week that it has invested in Acuity Pharmaceuticals.

According to Innovation Philadelphia, the investment was made under a fund designed to “grow the wealth and workforce of the Greater Philadelphia Region through pre-seed and early-stage investments in technology companies.”

The exact size of the investment was not disclosed.

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.