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Benitec, Rosetta Genomics, Rockefeller University, eXegenics, Acacia, CombiMatrix

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Clinical Trial Using Benitec RNAi Tech Begins Enrolling Patients
 
Benitec said this week that a clinical trial evaluating the company’s expressed RNAi technology as part of a treatment for AIDS-related lymphoma has begun enrolling patients.
 
Initiation of the trial, which will include five HIV-1 infected adults with AIDS-related lymphoma, is an important development for Benitec, which has been struggling in recent years under a cash crunch. Last year, the company closed its US operations and halted all internal drug-development efforts (see RNAi News, 6/29/2006).
The AIDS-related lymphoma trial is being funded and run by Benitec’s strategic partner, City of Hope.
 
The therapy involves using granulocyte colony stimulating factor to mobilize stem cells in AIDS-related lymphoma patients. Once the stem cells begin circulating peripherally, they can be collected, isolated, and genetically modified with a lentiviral vector containing three therapeutic genes: DNA that encodes for shRNAs targeting the tat-rev exon, a ribozyme that cleaves the mRNA for CCR5, and a nucleolar-localizing TAR decoy.
 
The patients undergo full chemoablation, which kills both the regenerative cells of the bone marrow and lymphoma cells, and then the stem cells are infused back into their bloodstreams so that they can migrate to, and engraft in, the marrow.
 

 
Rosetta Licenses microRNAs from Rockefeller University
 
Rosetta Genomics said this week that it has licensed proprietary microRNAs for therapeutic applications from Rockefeller University.
 
"Rosetta Genomics intends to continue to expand what we believe to be the dominant intellectual property estate related to microRNA genes for diagnostic and therapeutic uses," Amir Avniel, president and CEO of Rosetta, said in a statement. "Our strategy is to supplement our in-house IP efforts through licensing agreements with key academic centers such as Rockefeller University. The proprietary human and viral microRNAs brought to us through this important relationship will provide us access to even more potential drug targets.”
 
Specific terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.
 

 
eXegenics Changes Name to Opko, Lists Shares on American Stock Exchange
 
Ophthalmics firm eXegenics, which recently acquired Acuity Pharmaceuticals (see RNAi News, 3/29/2007), said this week that it has completed its name change to Opko Health.
 
The company also reported that its stock is now trading on the American Stock Exchange under the symbol “OPK.”
 

 
SEC Approval Clears Way for Acacia and CombiMatrix to Split Aug. 15
 
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has said that Acacia Research and CombiMatrix can split apart on Aug. 15 after completing a share trade.
 
At that date, every 10 shares of Acacia Research-CombiMatrix common stock will be redeemed for one share of CombiMatrix Corporation common stock.
 
CombiMatrix in December 2006 filed with the SEC to split off from parent company Acacia, saying at the time that Acacia’s business “is significantly different than our business,” and that Acacia’s business involves added financial risks related to patent litigation that would not otherwise be a part of CombiMatrix’s business.  
 
"The separation of our two companies will enable each to execute its business independently, and we are excited about the future prospects of our company as we re-invent ourselves with a focus on molecular diagnostics and personalized medicine," CombiMatrix President and CEO Amit Kumar said in a statement.
 
On Aug. 15 CombiMatrix’s stock will begin trading on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the symbol CBMXD, and after 20 days will begin trading under the symbol CBMX.

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.