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Benitec, Nucleonics, Becton Dickinson and Clontech, MWG Biotech, and Nastech


Benitec Grants License to RNAi Technology for Therapeutic Applications

Benitec said last week that it has granted the first license to use its DNA-directed RNAi technology for therapeutic applications to Revivicor.

According to Revivicor, it is a private firm spun out of PPL Therapeutics, and it focuses on “treatments for diabetes and whole organ transplantation, developed from the significant advances made in the fields of xenografts, stem cells, and tolerance technologies.”

The deal with Benitec permits Revivicor to use the ddRNAi technology to down-regulate genes in transgenic pigs in order to create tissue and organs that can be used for grafting and transplantation in humans.

In exchange, Benitec is to receive an upfront fee, as well as annual maintenance fees, a milestone payment upon US Food and Drug Administration approval, and royalty payments. Specific terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

David Ayares, CEO and CSO of Revivicor, declined to comment on the company and how it intends to use Benitec’s RNAi technology in light of intellectual property filings that have yet to be finalized.

Nucleonics Secures $2.7 Million Equipment Financing Facility

Nucleonics said this week that it has secured a $2.7 million equipment financing facility through Oxford Finance.

The Oxford facility expands Nucleonics’ access to funding for the company’s product development efforts over the 2004-2007 period,” Richard Fitzgerald, Nucleonics’ vice president of finance and administration, said in a statement. “We are pleased to partner with a quality organization such as Oxford through a financing facility that allows us to fund our equipment purchases over time, as we advance our products into early clinical development.”

Becton Dickinson to Sell Clontech Unit

Becton Dickinson plans to sell its Clontech business, the company said last week.

BD is taking this step because it wants to “focus its strategy on cell analysis, discovery labware, and its new platforms of imaging and in vitro drug metabolism/toxicity testing,” Edward Ludwig, chairman, president and CEO of BD, said in a statement.

The planned sale “also allows us to direct our resources toward higher-growth opportunities in the pharmaceutical drug discovery arena,” Ludwig added.

It was not immediately clear when BD planned to sell the unit, or whether it had a buyer. BD said it expects to divest it during its fiscal second quarter, which ends March 31, 2005.

BD estimates that the Clontech unit will have generated approximately $60 million in revenues in fiscal 2004, which ends Sept. 30. BD also said the sale will cause it to record $125 million in pre-tax charges in its fiscal fourth quarter. Clontech’s fiscal 2005 financial results would have been comparable to fiscal 2004 results, BD said.

The company has hired Goldman Sachs to be its financial advisor for the divestiture.

BD will report its fiscal 2004 earnings in Nov. 4. Revenue for the three months ended June 30 were flat at $8 million year over year.

MWG Biotech To Divest Microarray, Lab Automation Businesses

Ebersberg, Germany-based MWG Biotech said last week that it plans to divest its microarray and lab automation businesses.

In a statement, the company said that management will consider “various separation” options for the divestiture of the product lines to focus on its genomic synthesis business, the production of synthetic nucleic acids and oligonucleotides, and genomic information (DNA sequencing).

The company said it expects a negative impact on its financials, but was not able to provide any specific guidance, but said it will seek new capital.

Nastech Sets Date for Release of Q3 Results

Nastech said this week that it will release its third-quarter 2004 financial results on Tuesday, Oct. 26, before the opening of the markets.

The company is also planning to host a conference call to discuss the results at 11 a.m. that day.

The Scan

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.

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.