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Genta, AVI BioPharma, Invitrogen, and the Strategic Research Institute


Genta Says Aventis Takeover Won’t Change Terms of Genasense Deal

Genta said this week that its deal with French drug maker Aventis for the investigational antisense cancer drug Genasense includes a provision under which the partnership will be assigned to a successor in the event of a change of control at Aventis. The statement comes amid a recent $60 billion hostile takeover offer for drug maker Aventis by peer Sanofi-Synthelabo.

Aventis bought the rights to Genasense from Genta in 2002.

Genta said that the terms of this deal would remain unchanged should Aventis be acquired.

AVI Says Shareholders Exercise Warrants to Buy 1.6 Million Shares

AVI BioPharma said this week that several of its institutional investors have exercised warrants to purchase about 1.6 million shares of the company’s stock at $4.62 per share, for gross proceeds to the company of roughly $7.5 million.

The warrants, said AVI, were issued pursuant to a direct purchase of the company’s stock in December under a shelf registration.

Proceeds of the warrant exercise, the company added, will support ongoing operations and clinical activities.

Invitrogen Schedules Release of Fourth- Quarter Results, Conference Call

Invitrogen said this week that it has set the release of its fourth-quarter financial results, as well as a related conference call, for Feb. 12.

The financial report will be released before the open of the market, and the conference call will be held at 11 am. A webcast of the call can be accessed on the com- pany’s website (, or by calling 877-407-9210.

SRI Protein Phosphorylation Conference to Include Session on RNAi

Strategic Research Institute said this week that it’s 2nd annual Protein Phosphorylation Drug Discovery World Summit will include a session on the application of siRNAs and RNAi to protein kinase and phosphatase drug discovery.

The conference is being held on April 21-23 at the Marriott Del Mar in San Diego.

Event details can be found at

Cytrx Says IND Filed to Begin Clinical Testing of DNA-based HIV Vaccine

CytRx said this week that it, along with partners Advanced BioScience Laboratories and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, have filed an investigational new drug application with US regulators for a DNA-based HIV vaccine.

The vaccine uses technology CytRx licensed from UMMS and Advanced BioScience. The company had previously said that it anticipates a phase I study of the vaccine to begin roughly 30 days after the FDA clears the IND. The trial is expected to last about 12 to 18 months.

Under the terms of a recently signed deal, CytRx will assume ownership of the vaccine, as well as responsibility for filing it for market approval, after the phase I trial is completed. Advanced BioScience has an option to acquire the vaccine’s commercial manufac-turing rights.

Cytrx Dismisses Independent Auditors

CytRx said in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week that it had dismissed Ernst & Young as its independent auditors as of Jan. 20.

CytRx CFO Kirk Peacock declined to comment on the reasons behind the dismissal. A company spokeswoman noted that an announcement will be made when new auditors are found.

In the SEC filing, CytRx noted that for the fiscal years 2001 and 2002, and in the interim period up to Jan. 20, 2004, there were no disagreements with Ernst & Young on matters of accounting practices and principles, financial statement disclosure, or auditing scope and procedures that would have caused the auditor to make reference to the matter in its reports.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.