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MitoCheck, CytRx and University of Massachusetts Medical School, Invitrogen, and Compugen


European Researchers to Use RNAi for Cell Division Study

A consortium of European researchers has received €8.5 million in funding from the European Union to study cell division, in part by using RNA interference, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory said last week.

The project, called MitoCheck, includes researchers at EMBL, the Max Planck Institute of Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, and nine other research institutes in Austria, Germany, Italy, France, and the UK.

EMBL scientists plan to study the effects on cell division of suppressing 20,000 genes, one by one, using RNA interference. The MPI in Dresden will provide a library of RNAi molecules. Other partners in the project will use the information to determine the biological regulation of cell division genes.

The funding comes from the European Commission’s 6th Framework Program

CytRx, UMMS Ink New RNAi Deal

CytRx said this week that it has signed a deal with the University of Massachusetts Medical School broadening their existing RNAi alliance.

Under their new agreement, UMMS will disclose to CytRx any new technologies developed at UMMS over the next three years pertaining to RNAi, diabetes, obesity, neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS, and cytomegalovirus, CytRx said. The company will then have the right, by making a specified cash payment to UMMS, to acquire an option to negotiate on an exclusive basis with UMMS to obtain a worldwide, exclusive license to the disclosed technology on commercially reasonable terms.

CytRx said it has agreed to make certain cash payments to UMMS over the next two years in consideration of the agreement by UMMS to make the invention disclosures.

“Our new collaboration and invention disclosure agreement with CytRx represents for us a unique means for broadening our existing alliance with CytRx,” John Sullivan, professor of pediatrics and molecular medicine and director of the office of research at UMMS, said in a statement. “We have been satisfied with our relationship with CytRx and look forward to working with them in the future.”

Invitrogen Posts Higher Q2 Revenues, Earnings

Invitrogen’s revenues and earnings increased for the second quarter, the company reported this week.

Revenues increased approximately 32 percent to $254 million, as compared to $192.4 million reported for the second quarter of 2003.

Invitrogen said that the revenue growth included a 19 percent increase in its BioDiscovery unit, due principally to its Molecular Probes acquisition. It also attributed a 53 percent increase in revenues for its BioProduction products to its acquisition of BioReliance and solid customer demand for its cell culture products.

Net income for the second quarter also increased, to $19.7 million, from $16.9 million for Q2 of 2003.

Compugen Reports Discovery of RNA Editing Sites in Human Transcriptome

Compugen announced this week the systematic identification of adenosine to inosine RNA editing sites in the human transcriptome, increasing the number of known A to I editing sites from approximately 100 to more than 10,000.

According to the company, its scientists have discovered 12,723 A to I editing sites in 1637 genes. Examples of predicted editing sites in selected genes were experimentally validated by Compugen and in collaboration with Michael Jantsch’s laboratories in the Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, University of Vienna, Austria, Compugen said.

Details of the discovery are scheduled for publication in Nature Biotechnology, said Compugen.


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.