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Invitrogen, Genisphere, Arrowhead Research, Insert Therapeutics, Calando Pharmaceuticals

Invitrogen to Use Genisphere's Signal-Amplification Technology in miRNA Kits
Invitrogen said this week that it has licensed exclusive rights to use Genisphere’s 3DNA dendrimer signal-amplification technology in fluorescent microRNA microarray-labeling kits.
According to the companies, the kits, which will also incorporate Invitrogen’s Alexa Fluor fluorescent dyes, will be marketed under the NCode Rapid miRNA labeling system name.
Genisphere’s technology is based on highly branched DNA structures that serve as scaffolds for multitudes of fluorescent dyes. According to the companies, researchers using the technology can start with a total RNA sample as little as 250 nanograms, which eliminates the need to purify the microRNA sample before labeling. The NCode Rapid miRNA Labeling System can reliably detect two to 10 copies of microRNA per cell, they added.
“Because microRNAs play a significant role in cancer and in the differentiation of stem cells, discoveries resulting from experiments in those areas could potentially expedite the diagnostics applications of microRNA biomarkers in disease,” Peter Welch, director of research and development of gene expression profiling at Invitrogen, said in a statement.
Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Arrowhead Takes Control of Insert, Calando Subsidiaries
Arrowhead Research said this week that it has taken active control over its subsidiaries Insert Therapeutics and RNAi drug-developer Calando Pharmaceuticals (see related story, this issue).
The change comes about one month after Insert and Calando agreed to merge (see RNAi News, 1/24/2008). The move, which was first announced last October, remains subject to Arrowhead shareholder approval.
According to Arrowhead, the combination of the companies and the shift in control “is a response to current consolidation within the pharmaceutical industry.
“It is more capital efficient to leverage existing sales, marketing, and distribution infrastructure of established pharmaceutical companies than for Calando and Insert to invest in building their own,” the company added. “This model will enable Arrowhead shareholders to capture more value while decreasing their risk profile.
"We believe the best way to build shareholder value is not to build a large pharmaceutical company at this time, but rather a small, fast, and focused company," Arrowhead CEO Chris Anzalone said in a statement.

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.