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Cancer Research UK, Netherlands Cancer Institute, and CytRx


Cancer Research UK, Netherlands Cancer Institute Release 8,000-gene RNAi Cancer Library

Cancer Research UK and the Netherlands Cancer Institute have completed a human RNA interference library that is ostensibly the first in the world to focus exclusively on genes relevant to cancer, Cancer Research UK said last week.

The RNAi library includes 24,000 RNAi molecules targeted at inactivating 8,000 human genes and contains molecules in three different vectors, to ensure that the molecules would be able to inactivate genes in different types of cells, under a range of conditions. The project, begun fourteen months ago, was funded with £250,000 ($450,000) from Cancer Research UK and additional funding from the Netherlands Cancer Institute and its Dutch partners. It was spearheaded by Julian Downward of Cancer Research UK, who is based in London, and René Bernards of the Netherlands Cancer Institute.

It is now available to research groups in the UK and the Netherlands, according to Cancer Research UK.

“This library will be a fantastic new tool to help us dissect out the functions of the hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of genes which play a role in cancer,” Bernards said in a statement. “It will greatly accelerate research into the genetic origins of the disease.”

Cancer Research UK intends to license the library to a number of pharmaceutical companies, under the rubric of its technology transfer subsidiary, Cancer Research Technology, and to use the proceeds of these licensing deals for additional research. It also wants to make the library available to academic researchers “at a reasonable academic rate,” according to a spokesperson, and is currently negotiating with a distributor.

With 10-K Delayed, CytRx Switches Auditing Firms Again

CytRx of Los Angeles said last week it had dismissed PricewaterhouseCoopers as its independent auditors on April 12 and replaced the firm with BDO Seidman LLP on April 14 — a week after it said that it was unable to file its Form 10-K by the March 30 deadline (See RNAi News 04-09-04).

BDO will become the third auditor CytRx has engaged this year. CytRx dismissed Ernst & Young, which it had used as an outside auditor for the 2002 fiscal year statements, on January 20.

In a new Form 8-K, filed on April 16, the RNAi therapeutics firm said that Pricewaterhouse raised several main issues during its accounting review: 1) whether the purchase price paid for Global Genomics, which CytRx acquired in July 2002, should have been reduced due to an allocation of a portion of this price to “an acquired assembled workforce”; 2) whether the fair value of an investment in Blizzard Genomics, which CytRx acquired in the Global Genomics merger, was overstated; and 3) whether CytRx should have taken an “other than temporary” impairment charge “against the appropriate carrying value of the Blizzard investment earlier than the fourth quarter of 2003,” when the charge was taken.

The company dismissed Pricewaterhouse due to disagreements over these issues, according to the 8-K. It stated in the form that a resolution of these issues could result in the company’s net loss for 2002 being “materially larger” than reported in the company’s financial statements for the year, and the company’s net worth being reduced compared to that reported in the statements.

CytRx also said it was unable to file its 10-K by an extended April 15 deadline, “due to pending accounting treatment issues and the company’s change of accountants.” The company added that it is “working diligently, with BDO, to complete the audited financial statements for 2003 so its Form 10-K can be filed “as expeditiously as possible.” It also added, in a press release, that it “continues to believe that its prior accounting treatment for [the Blizzard and Global Genomics acquisition] was correct in all material respects.”


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