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CytRx, Galapagos Genomics and Wyeth, Aventis, Genta and Genasense, and Promega and Benitec


CytRx Reports Q3 Results, Says Cash Exists to Last Through End of March

CytRx reported this week its financial results for the third quarter, posting no revenues and slightly higher expenses than in the year-ago quarter.

As a result, the company has indicated in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it only has enough cash on hand to last through the first quarter of 2005, or until the end of March.

CytRx’s expenses in the third quarter were $2.9 million, up slightly from $2.8 million in the same period a year earlier. Research and development accounted for $1.3 million in third-quarter costs.

The company posted a net loss of $2.8 million, down considerably from a loss of $8.8 million in the third quarter of 2003. As of Sept. 30, CytRx had cash and short-term investments totaling $4.4 million.

According to CytRx, it has enough assets to allow it to operate through the first quarter of next year. On top of this, CytRx noted in its SEC filing that “our strategic alliance with UMass may require us to make significant expenditures to fund research at that medical institution.

The aggregate amount of these expenditures under certain circumstances is expected to be approximately $2,010,000 during 2004, of which $1,434,000 had been expensed through September 30.”

While the company intends “to pursue other sources of capital, … we do not currently have commitments from any third parties to provide us with capital,” CytRx said in the filing.

“As a result of the fact that our annual report … for the year ended December 31, 2003 was filed after the deadline for its filing, we became ineligible through April 2005 to register re-sales by investors of our common stock,” the company noted in the SEC filing. CytRx noted that this issue may prove a significant stumbling block to raising money from investors “for whom the ability to re-sell their shares relatively soon after they acquire them is important.”

Galapagos, Wyeth Collaboration Identifies Osteoporosis Targets

Galapagos Genomics said this week that its collaboration with Wyeth, using Galapagos’ SilenceSelect adenoviral siRNA platform, has yielded a set of osteoporosis targets.

Wyeth will use the targets in its internal drug development programs, and has paid Galapagos an undisclosed milestone. Galapagos noted that as development activities related to the targets advances, it stands to receive up to $40 million in additional milestone payments.

Aventis Withdraws from Genasense Development Deal with Genta

Genta said this week that Aventis has withdrawn from the companies’ collaboration to develop the antisense-based cancer treatment Genasense.

In 2002, Aventis signed a deal worth up to $480 million to Genta to jointly develop and market Genasense. However, in May a US Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended that the agency not approve Genasense, determining that a phase III trial for advanced melanoma did not provide enough evidence of the drug’s benefits.

According to Genta, Aventis has decided to end the companies’ partnership on the drug, but will continue to support development efforts until May 2005, pursuant to their existing agreement.

Aventis said in a statement that “the companies are working with the FDA to review key issues and to identify next steps related to further development of Genasense in advanced malignant melanoma.”

Promega Seeks Injunction Against Benitec in ddRNAi Suit

Promega said this week that it has filed an injunction in the US District Court for the District of Delaware seeking to prevent Benitec from granting additional licenses to its DNA-directed RNA interference technology.

The move is the latest in an ongoing legal battle between the companies. Last year, Benitec granted Promega the exclusive right to use and sublicense the ddRNAi technology in areas outside of human therapeutics. This summer, however, Benitec sued Promega for allegedly failing to meet its payment requirements under the companies’ arrangement (see RNAi News, 7/30/2004). Charging that Promega’s licenses is now nonexclusive, Benitec has since begun granting sublicenses to the ddRNAi technology itself.

Promega maintains that its exclusive licenses is still in effect, and that Benitec’s licensing activities have been in violation of the companies’ arrangement (see RNAi News, 9/10/2004).

The Scan

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.

SpliceVault Portal Provides Look at RNA Splicing Changes Linked to Genetic Variants

The portal, described in Nature Genetics, houses variant-related messenger RNA splicing insights drawn from RNA sequencing data in nearly 335,700 samples — a set known as the 300K-RNA resource.

Automated Sequencing Pipeline Appears to Allow Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Lineage Detection in Nevada Study

Researchers in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics describe and assess a Clear Labs Dx automated workflow, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis method for quickly identifying SARS-CoV-2 lineages.

UK Team Presents Genetic, Epigenetic Sequencing Method

Using enzymatic DNA preparation steps, researchers in Nature Biotechnology develop a strategy for sequencing DNA, along with 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, on existing sequencers.