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Calando, Insert, Alnylam, Introgen, Silence

Arrowhead Subsidiaries Insert, Calando Ink Merger Agreement
Arrowhead Research said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission last week that two of its subsidiaries, the RNAi drug firm Calando Pharmaceuticals and the nanobiotech company Insert Therapeutics, have agreed to merge.
The plan to combine the two companies was first announced last October by Calando.
“The proposed combination maximizes strong synergies between the two companies, joins a shared strategic vision, and provides for the efficient use of resources under the Arrowhead umbrella,” Calando President and CEO Larry Stambaugh said at that time.
Arrowhead said in the SEC filing that the merger was approved by both Calando and Insert’s boards, and that the companies have asked their shareholders to support the transaction. If the deal goes through, Arrowhead said it will own 66.5 percent of the new entity.

Alnylam Announces Positive Results from Phase II Study of RSV Drug
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals said this week that data from a phase II study show that its siRNA-based respiratory syncytial virus drug ALN-RSV01 is safe, well-tolerated, and has “significant” antiviral activity.
The study, called Gemini, was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study of ALN-RSV01 or placebo in 88 adult subjects experimentally infected with a wild type clinical strain of the virus.
“The study was designed to measure the safety and anti-viral activity of ALN-RSV01, with efficacy measures including the incidence of viral infection and the effects of treatment on the degree of viral infection and resulting clinical symptoms,” Alnylam said. The drug was administered intranasally in the trial.
Alnylam said that the full results of the study will be presented at the International Symposium on Respiratory Viral Infections meeting, which will be held in Singapore on Feb. 28 through March 2.

Introgen Sells Stake in Silence Therapeutics
Introgen Therapeutics, a developer of tumor suppressor drugs, said last week that it has sold the roughly 7.5 million shares of Silence Therapeutics that it held for net proceeds of about $7.5 million.
The company noted that its arrangement with Silence to evaluate its delivery technologies for RNAi applications remains unaffected by the sale.

The Scan

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.

Study Tracks Outcomes in Children Born to Zika Virus-Infected Mothers

By following pregnancy outcomes for women with RT-PCR-confirmed Zika virus infections, researchers saw in Lancet Regional Health congenital abnormalities in roughly one-third of live-born children.

Team Presents Benchmark Study of RNA Classification Tools

With more than 135 transcriptomic datasets, researchers tested two dozen coding and non-coding RNA classification tools, establishing a set of potentially misclassified transcripts, as they report in Nucleic Acids Research.

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.