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CytRx, Dharmacon, Ocular Angiogenesis Conference, CombiMatrix, AVI BioPharma, and NeoPharm

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CytRx Posts Higher Q3 Net Loss on Increased R&D Spending

CytRx reported this week a rise in its third-quarter net loss to $2.9 million, from $2.5 million in the year-ago quarter, largely as a result of an almost 125 percent increase in research and development spending to $1.5 million.

The higher R&D costs, said CytRx, are due to the company’s recent restructuring to focus on developing RNAi-based therapeutics and a DNA-based HIV vaccine. CytRx president and CEO Steven Kriegsman recently said that the company expects to file an IND on the HIV vaccine before the end of the year.

CytRx generated about $33,000 in interest and other income for the quarter, and posted no revenues.

As of Sept. 30, CytRx had cash and short-term investments worth about $13.1 million.


Dharmacon to Provide siRNAs to Bayer

Dharmacon said this week that it has signed a deal to provide custom siRNA reagents to Bayer.

According to Dharmacon, the reagents will be designed using its Smartselection and Smartpool technologies, and will be used by Bayer in target validation and drug development research.

Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

Dharmacon has recently struck a number of similar deals with other drugmakers, including Abbott, Exelixis, and Odyssey Thera.


Ocular Angiogenesis Conference to Include RNAi Talks

IBC Life Sciences is hosting in February a meeting on ocular angiogenesis that will include discussions about RNA interference.

The meeting, called Ocular Angiogenesis — Translating Preclinical Indications to Successful Clinical Developments, will be held on Feb. 9-10, 2004, at the motel at MIT in Cambridge, Mass.

According to IBC, “coverage highlights will include exploring new modalities in the ocular aberrant neovascularization [field] including cytokine antagonists, monoclonal antibodies, RNAi, soluble receptors, steroids, aminosterols, cocktail antagonists, small molecule drugs, oligonucloetide therapeutics, and gene therapy.”

The use of RNAi to combat ocular angiogenesis-related conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy is being explored by a number of companies, including Sirna Therapeutics and Acuity Pharmaceuticals, both of which will be represented at the conference.

Details about the event can be found at http://www.lifesciencesinfo.com/Angiogenesis.


Harvard to Use CombiMatrix Arrays in RNA Research Program

Acacia Research said this week that its CombiMatrix unit will be supplying arrays to Harvard University for use in mapping three-dimensional binding sites for oligonucleotides on folded RNA molecules.

The research is being conducted by Gregory Verdine, a Harvard College professor and Erving professor of chemistry in the university’s department of chemistry and chemical biology, said Acacia. The project aims at discovering discontinuous RNA epitopes that will serve as therapeutic drug targets.

Specific terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.


AVI BioPharma PKD Antisense Drug Shows Preclinical Activity, Company Files for Orphan Drug Designation for ARPKD Drug

AVI BioPharma said this week that one of its antisense treatments for polycystic kidney disease appears to inhibit PKD1 gene expression, and resulted in a reduction in size of renal cysts and some preservation of kidney function, in a mouse model. PKD1 mutations are considered to be the major cause of PKD, said the company.

The preclinical results are to be presented at the American Society of Nephrology meeting in San Diego on Nov. 16. The presentation is entitled PKD1 Over-Expression in BALB/c-cpk Mice Contributes to the Renal Pathology.

AVI also said that it has filed an application with US regulators for an orphan drug designation for another antisense drug, AVI-4126, which is being developed as a treatment for autosomal recessive PKD.


NeoPharm Says Transfection Agent Effective for RNAi Molecules

NeoPharm said this week that its NeoPhectin cat- ionic cardiolipin-based lipids have been used to deliver RNAi molecules into primary cells.

The company said that NeoPhectin is expected to be available to research laboratories beginning in January 2004. The company added that it is working on an in vivo transfection reagent, NeoPhectin-AT, which is expected to be available in March.

“These cationic cardiolipin liposomes have the potential to deliver DNA/RNA in both in vitro and in vivo applications,” NeoPharm CSO Imran Ahmad said.

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.