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Cerionx, Merck Collaborate to Boost Efficiency of siRNA Assays

Merck Research Laboratories, hoping to improve the efficiency of siRNA assay runs in its Automated Biotechnology Laboratories, will help Cerionx optimize its cold-plasma process for automated pipette tip cleaning.

Under the terms of the one-year agreement, Merck will use Cerionx' TipCharger Systems in siRNA screening work at its North Wales, Penn.-based lab, and will work with Cerionx to further optimize system performance in the facility, the companies said.

Additional terms were not disclosed.


NYAS Announces microRNAs and Cancer Meeting

The New York Academy of Sciences recently announced that it will be holding a meeting entitled "microRNAs and Cancer" as part of its Cancer and Signaling discussion group program.

The meeting will be held on May 10 at the New York Academy of Sciences. Featured speakers include Ohio State University Medical Center's Carlo Croce; Yale University's Frank Slack; Johns Hopkins University's Joshua Mendell; the National Cancer Institute's Natasha Caplen; and the Broad Institute's Jun Lu.

Additional details about the event can be found at www.nyas.org/events


Digene to Distribute Asuragen's CF Screening Products Worldwide

Digene will market and distribute cystic fibrosis screening products made by Asuragen, the newly formed molecular diagnostic company spun out of Ambion, the companies said this week.

Terms of the exclusive, worldwide deal call for Digene to make an upfront payment to Asuragen, and to make additional payments based on regulatory milestones.

Asuragen will also develop its next-generation CF test, Signature CF Expand, which will broaden the mutation panel to include ethnic-specific mutations that can be adapted for use in carrier screening and may find additional utility for neonatal and newborn testing. Digene will also distribute this product exclusively and worldwide.

In addition, Digene will have the first right of refusal on future genetic test products developed by Asuragen. The Signature products use the Luminex xMAP technology.

Asuragen was formed after Applied Biosystems acquired Ambion's RNA business in March (see RNAi News, 1/5/2006).


Invitrogen Reports Increased Q1 Revenues Despite Soft Sales

Invitrogen this week announced preliminary first-quarter financial results, posting a 12-percent jump in revenues despite sales coming in 3 percent lower than expected.

Invitrogen said revenues in the quarter were $309 million amid slower-than-anticipated sales in the company's US Bioproduction and Japan businesses.

Pro forma earnings per share for the first quarter of 2006 were slightly higher than anticipated due to improved mix, lower royalty expense and lower share count, Invitrogen said.

Looking ahead, Invitrogen said that it is widening its full year revenue guidance to a range of $1.3 billion to $1.355 billion due to first quarter performance and the anticipated discontinuation and sale of certain minor business units.

Previously, the company projected that full-year 2006 revenues would be $1.33 billion to $1.355 billion.

Pro forma earnings per share guidance remains unchanged with a range of $3.90 to $4.10.

Additional first-quarter results will be provided during a conference call on April 27.


Acuity Licenses Non-RNAi Drug for Ophthalmic Diseases

Acuity Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has exclusively licensed the global development and commercialization rights to a non-RNAi drug candidate, N-chlorotaurine, for ophthalmic infections.

Acuity licensed the drug from Pathogenics in exchange for up-front and license fees, as well as development milestones and royalties.

According to Acuity, the drug is a derivative of a naturally occurring substance in the body and has already completed pilot Phase II studies in Europe, showing anti-microbial activity for such applications as sinus and ear infections, as well as in viral conjunctivitis.

Acuity said it intends to initially develop NCT for conjunctivitis.

The Scan

Looking for Omicron

NPR reports that SARS-CoV-2 testing in the US has gotten better but also that some experts say more needs to be done to better track the Omicron variant.

Holmes Alleges Abuse

The Associated Press reports that Theranos' Elizabeth Holmes has testified at her wire fraud trial that her business and romantic partner abused her.

Bit More Diverse, But More to Do

While Black and Hispanic patients are more likely to participate in cancer clinical trials than previously, they are still underrepresented, according to US News & World Report.

PNAS Papers on Yeast Gene Silencing, Zika Virus Inhibition, Immunoglobulin Hypermutation

In PNAS this week: gene silencing in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, possible neuroprotective role for SHFL in a mouse model of Zika virus infection, and more.