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Dharmacon, PanGenex, DevGen, PTC Therapeutics, and AVI BioPharma


Dharmacon Moves Headquarters, Will Remain in Lafayette, Colo.

Dharmacon is in the process of moving its headquarters to the Lafayette Corporate Campus in Lafayette, Colo., about a mile from the company’s former headquarters.

According to the company’s website, its new address is 2650 Crescent Drive. A representative from the facility’s developer confirmed that Dharmacon has leased the first floor of the building, which is roughly 40,000 square feet (about three times larger than its previous headquarters), at a rate of $11 per square foot.

The representative declined to comment on the length of the lease.

PanGenex Introduces Target Screening Technology, Demonstrates Use with siRNAs

PanGenex, a subsidiary of drugmaker Cell Therapeutics, said this week that it has introduced a library of over 50,000 gene sequences and vectors that can be used to produce gene expression reporters and gene knockouts in human cells.

PanGenex said that its scientists demonstrated at the International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics how gene expression reporter cells derived from the library can be used to screen siRNA reagents to identify key pathways associated with cancer. The company said it identified a gene, called PGXA001 D3, whose expression is increased in response to TGF-alpha and IGF-1.

By screening a library of siRNA reagents, the pathways and genes implicated in the regulation of PGXA001 D3 were identified, said PanGenex.

“By screening chemical diversity libraries and siRNA libraries, the technology allows simultaneous identification of both chemical compounds that are the starting point for drug development as well as pathways and new drug discovery targets and biomarkers,” Robert Finney, president of PanGenex, said in a statement.

DevGen Gets Flemish Grant to Develop Drug Mechanism of Action Technology

DevGen said this week that it has received a €1.9 million grant from the Flemish governmentin Belgium to develop its technology for the identification of drug mechanisms of action.

DevGen’s technology uses gene knockdown ap- proaches, including RNAi, in C. elegans to identify and validate drug targets, determine compounds’ mechanisms of action, and develop RNAi-based transgenic crops.

“There are still a number of important marketed human drugs for which the mechanism of action is not known,” Vincenzo Facchini, DevGen’s head of R&D, said in a statement. “The identification of the molecular target and pathway activity of these drugs enables the discovery of second generation compounds with increased efficacy and reduced side-effects.”

“This significant grant from the Flanders government now enables us to progress several programs on high value pharmaceutical compounds internally, into drug discovery, and retain the program’s value in the company,” DevGen CEO Thierry Bogaert added.

PTC Therapeutics Receives SBIR Grant for RNase P Inhibitor Identification

PTC Therapeutics said this week that it has received a phase I SBIR grant from the National Institutes of Health to identify a new class of antibiotics that target bacterial ribonuclease P.

According to PTC, RNase P is a large catalytic ribonucleoprotein enzyme essential for bacterial survival.

“The evolution of multi-drug resistant bacteria and the potential use of bacteria as bioterrorism agents have necessitated the development of new antibiotics effective against novel and unique bacterial targets,” PTC president and CEO Stuart Peltz said in a statement. “Identification of small molecule inhibitors that target key post-transcriptional events will unlock the door for discovery of novel compounds.”

AVI Pulls Follow-Up Stock Offering

Antisense drug developer AVI BioPharma said last week that it has withdrawn a supplementary prospectus for the sale of 7.5 million shares of common stock due to a “recent short-term deterioration in the market for biotechnology stocks.”

“Given our current strong cash position, continued clinical progress and upcoming milestones, our board felt it was prudent to wait out this temporary market downturn,” AVI CEO Denis Burger said in a statement. “We remain confident in the future prospects of AVI, and we will reconsider our future funding needs at a later date in a hopefully stronger market.”

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.