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Galapagos, Cystic Fibrosis, Alnylam, Ambion, Cepheid, Invitrogen, BioSource, Bio-Rad

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Galapagos, Cystic Fibrosis
Foundation Ink Drug Discovery Pact

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics, the drug discovery and development arm of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, has signed a two-year discovery alliance with Galapagos Genomics.

Under the deal, Galapagos' Galadeno unit will use its adenoviral siRNA SilenceSelect and cDNA FlexSelect collections and know-how in assay design to discover and validate novel drug targets for the development of new cystic fibrosis therapies.

Galapagos will receive €1.3 million, about $1.7 million, from CFFT. In addition, Galapagos has the option to further develop the targets identified in its drug discovery programs. Additional terms were not disclosed.

News of the deal comes about a month after Alnylam Pharmaceuticals announced it would be exploring the use of RNAi to treat cystic fibrosis through a collaboration with CFFT (see RNAi News, 3/18/2005).


Alnylam in Talks with Government
Over Avian Flu Therapy

Alnylam is discussing with US officials the possibility of using RNAi to develop a treatment for avian flu, Reuters reported this week.

According to Reuters, Alnylam CEO John Maraganore said that the potential therapy would be stockpiled by the US government in order to treat people in the event of a pandemic outbreak of a high-virulence strain of the disease. Maraganore told Reuters that he hopes government officials will make a decision later this year on a contract with the company.


Ambion Licenses Armored
RNA Technology to Cepheid

Ambion said this week that it has licensed technology for RNA standards and controls to Cepheid for use in molecular diagnostic assays.

Under the agreement, Cepheid gets non-exclusive rights to incorporate Ambion's Armored RNA technology into in vitro diagnostics. Ambion Diagnostics, a division of Ambion, will manufacture custom reagents for Cepheid, which will use them with its SmartCycler and GeneXpert platforms.

Armored RNA technology, invented by Ambion and Cenetron, helps to stabilize RNA by packaging it in bacteriophage coat proteins. A major application is the production of RNA controls and standards for viral assays. Cepheid plans to use the technology to develop diagnostic tests in the areas of infectious diseases and oncology.


Invitrogen to Use Management System
to Track Sexual Harassment Training

Invitrogen will use a "learning management system" made by Boston-based TrainCaster to automate and track sexual harassment training compliance, according to a TrainCaster statement issued today.

Invitrogen was sued last December by a former employee for sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and creating a "hostile work environment," RNAi News' parent publication GenomeWeb News reported in January.

The TrainCaster system, which is scheduled for deployment at US's Invitrogen sites in the second quarter, automates training record-keeping, compliance status tracking, scheduling, testing, and "training resource management" via an Internet-ready software application, TrainCaster said.

"Invitrogen has a strong commitment to ensuring training compliance among its employees," said Lynn Stockdale, TrainCaster executive vice president, in the statement.


BioSource Directors Reject
Bio-Rad Acquisition Bid

BioSource International's directors unanimously rejected Bio-Rad Laboratories' $82 million offer to acquire the company, BioSource said this week.

In a letter to Bio-Rad CEO Norman Schwartz, the directors said they believed that Bio-Rad's April 6 offer of $8.50 per share was "significantly below BioSource's inherent value."

The directors further noted that prior to April 6, they had already been meeting with financial advisors to evaluate "strategic alternatives, including a possible sale of the company" to maximize financial results for its stockholders.

The Scan

Expanded Genetic Testing Uncovers Hereditary Cancer Risk in Significant Subset of Cancer Patients

In Genome Medicine, researchers found pathogenic or likely pathogenic hereditary cancer risk variants in close to 17 percent of the 17,523 patients profiled with expanded germline genetic testing.

Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy Embryos Appear Largely Normal in Single-Cell 'Omics Analyses

Embryos produced with spindle transfer-based mitochondrial replacement had delayed demethylation, but typical aneuploidy and transcriptome features in a PLOS Biology study.

Cancer Patients Report Quality of Life Benefits for Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

Immune checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy was linked in JAMA Network Open to enhanced quality of life compared to other treatment types in cancer patients.

Researchers Compare WGS, Exome Sequencing-Based Mendelian Disease Diagnosis

Investigators find a diagnostic edge for whole-genome sequencing, while highlighting the cost advantages and improving diagnostic rate of exome sequencing in EJHG.