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Nastech Pharmaceuticals, City of Hope, Senetek, Polish Academy of Sciences, SR Pharma, and Genta

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Nastech Confirms Licensing Deal with COH for Dicer-Substrate Technology
 
Nastech Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has licensed from the City of Hope the exclusive rights to the institute’s Dicer-substrate RNAi technology for use with five undisclosed targets.
 
The technology — which was developed by researchers from the City of Hope’s Beckman Research Institute, the COH, and Integrated DNA Technologies — uses synthetic RNA duplexes between 25 and 30 nucleotides long to trigger RNAi silencing.
 
The deal comes as no surprise to industry watchers given Nastech’s recent public statements that it has been working with the technology. As reported by RNAi News last month, Nastech CSO Paul Johnson said during an analyst and institutional investor day that the firm has been developing Dicer-substrates as therapeutic candidates, strongly suggesting the existence of a deal with the COH (see RNAi News, 10/12/2006).
  
"The agreement with City of Hope for rights to this unique RNAi technology and intellectual property has the potential to offer a better way of developing potent siRNA therapeutics than the conventional method that is being widely used by other companies,” Nastech President and CEO Steven Quay said in a statement. “In combination with Nastech's other intellectual property, we are in the unique position of being able to access all fundamental IP surrounding RNAi required for us to drive our siRNA therapeutics programs forward."
 

 
Senetek Licenses RNAi Therapy for Brain Cancer from Polish Academy of Sciences
 
Senetek said this week that it has signed agreements with the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences for the exclusive rights to an experimental RNAi-based therapy for brain tumors.
 
In exchange, Senetek will pay the institute royalties on the sale of commercialized products.
According to the company, the technology involves using RNAi to silence tenascin-C, an extracellular matrix protein whose expression appears to be correlated with the grade of malignancy of brain tumors.
 
“The current options for patients with brain tumors consist of treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, which have an average survival time of only 8 to 10 months,” Senetek CEO Frank Massino said in a statement. “This new technology works not only to prolong the survival of patients suffering from brain tumors, but possibly to cure them as well."
 

 
SR Pharma Raises ₤3.8M in Stock Placement
 
SR Pharma, the parent firm of Atugen, said this week that it has placed 20 million shares with institutional investors for ₤0.19 ($0.36) per share for gross proceeds of ₤3.8 million.
 
The funds will be used to support the company’s development programs and working capital.
 

 
Genta Stock Falls Below Nasdaq’s $1 Minimum Bid Price
 
Antisense drug developer Genta said last week that it has received notice from the Nasdaq Stock Market that it does not comply with the exchange’s minimum bid price of $1 per share.
Genta said it has 180 days, until May 1, 2007, to regain compliance before the stock faces delisting.

The Scan

Self-Reported Hearing Loss in Older Adults Begins Very Early in Life, Study Says

A JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery study says polygenic risk scores associated with hearing loss in older adults is also associated with hearing decline in younger groups.

Genome-Wide Analysis Sheds Light on Genetics of ADHD

A genome-wide association study meta-analysis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder appearing in Nature Genetics links 76 genes to risk of having the disorder.

MicroRNA Cotargeting Linked to Lupus

A mouse-based study appearing in BMC Biology implicates two microRNAs with overlapping target sites in lupus.

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.