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CalbaTech, Alnylam, Sirna, Wadsworth Center, Gene Expression Systems, Oncogenex, Hybridon

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CalbaTech, which acquires and incubates early-stage life science companies, said this week that it has bought oligo and reagent provider Molecula Research Laboratories.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Begun as an antisense oligo vendor, Molecula now offers a variety of RNAi products including custom siRNAs and siRNA transfection reagents, and plans to begin selling siRNA libraries.

Molecula CEO Matt Maupin, said CalbaTech, will remain in his current position with the company.


Alnylam Signs Lease for New Headquarters, Plans Move

Alnylam has signed a lease on a 45,000 square foot facility in Cambridge, Mass., and expects to have moved in by the second quarter next year.

The company’s new headquarters will be at 300 Third St., and represents a permanent home for a company that had been subletting its current facilities since it started up, a company spokeswoman said.


Sirna Adds IP Breakout to Website

Sirna Therapeutics recently added to its website a list of some of its key patents and PCT patent applications relating to RNAi.

Included in the company’s granted US patents are the fundamental Fire et al. US patent — number 6,506,559 — entitled Genetic Inhibition By Double-Stranded RNA, as well as the recently licensed Tuschl-1 PCT patent application — number WO 01/75164 — entitled RNA Sequence-Specific Mediators of RNA Interference.

The list can be viewed at http://www.sirna.com/rnai/intellectual.html.


Wadsworth Center Schedules RNAi Symposium

The Wadsworth Center, of the New York State Department of Health, has scheduled an RNAi symposium for Oct. 20.

The conference will include discussions covering the basics of RNAi and model organisms, as well as therapeutic applications of the technology.


Gene Expression Systems Sets Date for Next RNAi Meeting

GeneExpression Systems said that its next RNAi meeting, entitled RNA interference: Biology to Drugs & Therapeutics, will be held at the DoubleTree Guest Suites in Waltham, Mass. on May 2-4, 2004.

The conference is expected to include six academic speakers, six speakers from the biotech industry, and ten from the pharmaceutical industry. The conference’s scientific advisory committee includes John Rossi from the Beckman Institute, Roberto Weinmann from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dmitry Samarsky of Sequitur (see p.6), and William Marshall of Dharmacon.

Registration details can be found at http://www.expressgenes.com/registrationforrnai2004.htm.


OncoGenex raises $11.5 Million in Private Placement

Antisense-based cancer drug developer OncoGenex Technologies said this week that it has raised $11.5 million in a private placement.

According to the Vancouver-based company, Venture West led the financing round, which also included existing investors Business Development Bank of Canada and Milestone Medica, as well as new investors HIG Ventures and Working Opportunity Fund.

Proceeds from the equity purchase, said OncoGenex, will be used to expand the company’s pipeline, secure alliances and partnerships, and advance clinical programs.


Hybridon Publishes Research on Antisense Compounds

Hybridon reported this week the publication of a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing that an antisense oligo targeting Mdm2 was able to cause an increase in apoptosis and a decrease in cell proliferation in three human prostate cancer cell lines in vitro.

Activity of the oligo was also observed in vivo using tumor xenografts of LNCaP and PC3 in mice. Following treatment with the oligo, said Hybridon, Mbm2 protein levels in tumor tissues dropped more than 95 percent.

“The down-regulation of Mdm2 both in vitro and in vivo is a strong indication that our second-generation antisense compounds have the intended effect on the inhibition of target protein in the preclinical models,” Russell Martin, Hybridon senior vice president of drug development, said in a statement.

Co-authoring the paper was Hybridon president and CSO Sudhir Agrawal.

The company also announced the publication of a paper, appearing in the current issue of Clinical Cancer Research, demonstrating the safety of infusions of the company’s phase I/II antisense-based cancer drug GEM231.

The company added that a 120mg/m2/day dose of the drug has been established as the recommended dose for phase II trials.