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Focusing on Key Indications, Securing Partnerships Top Goals for New RXi CEO


By Doug Macron

Evaluating therapeutic areas and defining a pipeline are top priorities for RXi Pharmaceuticals as it works to evolve from a research-stage company into a full-fledged drug developer, the firm's newly appointed President and CEO Noah Beerman said this week.

Since it was first spun out of CytRx in early 2007, RXi has disclosed an interest in a number of different indications and disease areas at various times. Among them are neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; oncology; metabolic diseases including obesity and type II diabetes; and inflammatory conditions.

Because RNAi "has the potential to work in many, many areas … [establishing a pipeline] sometimes becomes a challenge for companies because it's like there are too many options available," Beerman told RNAi News. "From where I sit, one of the really strong initiatives will be to make sure that, as we continue forward, we are putting the right resources behind those areas we're most excited about."

Doing so, however, will require taking a fresh look at the opportunities in the field while giving consideration to the research already conducted at RXi, he said.

"I'm not going to strip [the pipeline] down and start from scratch because there is a lot of great work that has happened … to help find therapeutic targets and therapeutic areas for the company," he said. "At the same time … I do see us working at making sure we're focused on the right areas."

Beerman declined to comment specifically on which indications or diseases are under evaluation, stating that "we're really looking at everything," but he noted that those areas previously discussed by the company remain in contention.

At the same time, he said that the establishment of industry partnerships remains a key goal for RXi.

"Collaborations and partnerships have always been very high on the radar screen for the company," he said. "And at this point in time, we're in a pretty good position to translate the technology platform and therapeutic platform into potential collaborations and partnerships. That's a major emphasis for the company."

Again, however, Beerman declined to provide specific details. He also said that RXi was not updating previous guidance on either its partnership or drug-development activities.

As reported by RNAi News, RXi's previous President and CEO Tod Woolf said in June that the company expected to select its first therapeutic candidate before the end of 2009 (see RNAi News, 6/25/2009). In late 2008, the company's then-CFO Stephen DiPalma said that RXi's first industry partnership would be forged before the end of that year.

The Third Quarter

For the three-month period ended Sept. 30, RXi's net loss fell to $3 million, or $0.19 per share, from $3.4 million, or $0.25 per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Research and development spending jumped to $2 million from $1.2 million, while general and administrative costs shrank to $895,000 from $2.3 million.

At the end of the quarter, RXi had cash and cash equivalents totaling roughly $9 million.

The Scan

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More than two dozen researchers have developed new ethical guidelines for conducting ancient DNA research, which they present in Nature.

And Cleared

A UK regulator has cleared former UK Prime Minister David Cameron in concerns he should have registered as a consultant-lobbyist for his work with Illumina, according to the Financial Times.

Suit Over Allegations

The Boston Globe reports that David Sabatini, who was placed on leave from MIT after allegations of sexual harassment, is suing his accuser, the Whitehead Institute, and the institute's director.

Nature Papers on Esophageal Cancer, Origin of Modern Horses, Exome Sequencing of UK Biobank Participants

In Nature this week: genetic and environmental influences of esophageal cancer, domestic horse origin traced to Western Eurasian steppes, and more.