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CytRx, Dharmacon, Bayer, Benitec, SRI, Sprout Group, Nastech, and Isis Pharmaceuticals

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CytRx Hires New York Area PR, IR Firm

CytRx has hired The Investor Relations Group to handle its public relations and investor relations work, RNAi News has learned.

Tom Caden of IRG confirmed the companies’ relationship, noting that his firm has been working for CytRx for “about two or three weeks.” Caden noted that he is handling IR duties for the RNAi drug developer.

CytRx president and CEO Steven Kriegsman declined comment.


Dharmacon, Bayer Expand siRNA Reagent Deal

Dharmacon said this week that it has expanded a deal to supply Bayer with custom siRNA reagents for use in target validation.

Dharmacon first announced the arrangement, under which it is using its Smartselection and Smartpool technologies to design the reagents for Bayer, in November.

Under the terms of the deal, during the first quarter of 2004, Dharmacon will provide Bayer with siRNA reagents for about 4,000 gene targets for research in several undisclosed therapeutic areas.

Additional terms were not disclosed.


Benitec Stock Begins Trading on Berlin, Frankfurt Stock Exchanges

Benitec recently announced that its stock has begun trading on the regulated unofficial market on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, as well as Xetra, the Deutsche Borse electronic trading system.

The company also said that its shares will be traded on the Berlin Bremen Stock Exchange as of March 2.

Benitec has publicly expressed it intention to begin trading its stock on the NASDAQ as it becomes a US-based company.


SRI Schedules RNAi Meeting for April

The Strategic Research Institute has scheduled its second siRNA conference for April 19-21.

The meeting, which is being held at the Marriott Del Mar in San Diego, will feature discussions on such topics as siRNA in target validation; in vivo monitoring and nucleic acid delivery; partnering and strategic alliances for building an RNAi business; and the IP situation facing the RNAi space.

The meeting will feature participants from both industry and academia, including David Dorris of Ambion, Stephen Scaringe from Dharmacon, John Rossi from the Beckman Research Institute, and Amy Pasquinelli from the University of California, San Diego.

Details about the conference, as well as information on registering to attend, can be found at http://www.srinstitute.com/ApplicationFiles/Web/WebFrame.cfm?web_id=173.


Sprout Group Co-Leads Financing of Medical Device Firm

The Sprout Group, a major investor in Sirna Therapeutics, said this week that it has co-led a $4 million Series A financing round in medical device firm Aspire Medical.

Aspire is developing treatments for obstructive sleep apnea.


Nastech to Release Fourth-Quarter Results Next Week

Drug delivery firm Nastech, which recently revealed an interest in RNAi, said this week that it will release its fourth-quarter and year-end financial results on March 10.

Nastech reported last month that it had taken a license to the fundemental Fire-Mello patent from the Carnegie Institute, publicly signaling a desire to get into the RNAi field (see RNAi News, 2/6/2004).

Nastech will also host a conference call for investors and analysts on March 10.


Isis Receives Government Contract for Biological Warfare Defense Project

Isis Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has received a two-year contract worth up to $19.5 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to continue development of the Tiger biosensor for infectious agents in biowarfare attacks.

Isis said that the Tiger biosensor is designed to simultaneously identify a broad array of infectious agents in a single test and without culturing.

Isis said that the biosensor is also suitable for epidemic disease surveillance.

“We have used the Tiger biosensor to successfully identify a variety of bacteria and viruses in numerous sample types, including human clinical samples and environmental samples such as water and air,” Isis vice president David Ecker said in a statement.

“These and other experiments have established proof-of-principle for this new approach to identify microorganisms.”

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.