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Nucleonics, Benitec, Alnylam, Isis, Tekmira, Qiagen, Invitrogen

Nucleonics Appeals Recent Court Defeat in Benitec IP Suit
Nucleonics this week said that it had applied for a rehearing of its appeal to a US Federal Court of Appeals for the reinstatement of a patent-infringement lawsuit with Benitec.
Last month, the appeals court rejected Nucleonics’ request to re-open the patent-infringement suit, which Benitec filed against Nucleonics in 2004 (see RNAi News, 7/26/2007). Nucleonics had hoped the litigation would force a court ruling on the validity of Benitec’s key US patent, but Benitec successfully had the suit dismissed.
According to Nucleonics, it has now filed with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit a petition for rehearing en banc of its previous appeal, which was rejected two-to-one by a three-judge panel. An en banc review would be conducted by the entire Federal Circuit, the company said.
Should the en banc review not be granted, Nucleonics said it has the option of pursuing a review by the US Supreme Court.

Alnylam Wins $38.6M Government Grant to Develop Hemorrhagic FeverTx
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals said this week it has been awarded $38.6 million over 33 months from the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency to develop a broad-spectrum, RNAi-based antiviral drug for viral hemorrhagic fever.
“This funding represents continued federal government support of RNAi as a potential therapeutic platform for biodefense and biopreparedness, while allowing us to continue to develop our technology as we advance our pipeline programs," Barry Greene, Alnylam COO, said in a statement.
"Combined with our Ebola contract from the National Institutes of Health for $23 million awarded in September 2006 and other sources of federal funding, we have now been granted more than $63 million in federal contracts for” Alnylam’s biodefense initiative, he added.

Isis Posts Higher Q2 Losses on Lower Revenues, Increased Costs
Isis Pharmaceuticals this week reported a jump in second-quarter losses on lower revenues and increased costs associated with its lead drug-development programs.
For the quarter, the antisense drug maker’s net loss rose to $11 million, or $0.13 per share, from $2.2 million, or $0.03 per share, a year earlier.
Research and development spending in the quarter edged up to $20.4 million from $19 million in the same period the year before, while revenues slipped to $3.8 million from $4.4 million.
As of June 30, the company had cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments totaling $202.7 million.
Isis’ financial results for the quarter do not include a $26.5 million payment from Alnylam Pharmaceuticals stemming from the company’s 2004 intellectual property cross-licensing arrangement (see RNAi News, 7/12/2007).
Isis said this payment will “substantially affect” its third quarter and full-year 2007 operating results. The company has now cut its estimated operating loss for the year by about $20 million to a net operating loss in the mid- to high-$40 million range.
Based on its current estimates, Isis said it expects its current resources are sufficient to fund its operations through 2010.

Tekmira Posts Q2 Loss Amid Revenue Drop
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals (formerly Inex Pharmaceuticals) this week reported a net loss for the second quarter amid a sharp drop in revenues.
The company’s net loss in the quarter was Cdn$5.1 million ($4.8 million), or Cdn$0.21 per share, compared with a profit of Cdn$21.2 million, or Cdn$1.10 per share, the year before.
Revenues in the second quarter fell to Cdn$3 million from Cdn$6.1 million a year earlier. The company’s revenues include payments from partner Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, which is collaborating with Tekmira on the development of drug-delivery technologies.
Tekmira is also providing Alnylam with contract manufacturing services (see RNAi News, 1/11/2007).
Earlier this summer, an Alnylam official revealed that his company had opted to use internally developed delivery technologies in both its hypercholesterolemia and liver cancer programs, rather than Tekmira’s technology (see RNAi News, 6/28/2007).
In the second quarter, Tekmira’s research and development spending dropped slightly, to Cdn$1 million from Cdn$1.2 million, primarily reflecting a decrease in salary expense.
As of June 30, Tekmira had cash and cash equivalents totaling Cdn$22.4 million.

Qiagen Posts Double-Digit Growth in Q2 Revenues and Profit; Raises Full-Year Guidance
Qiagen this week said second-quarter revenue rose 19 percent as research and development spending increased 25 percent and net income rose nearly 60 percent.
Financial results for the quarter did not include any contribution from Digene, which Qiagen purchased in a $1.6 billion deal that closed on July 31.
Total revenues for the three months ended June 30 rose to $135 million from $113.2 million year over year.
On a constant currency basis, the company’s revenues increased 15 percent year over year. Organic growth was 11 percent.
R&D spending increased to $12.7 million from $10.2 million year over year.
Net income increased to $22.6 million from $14.2 million in the year-ago period.
Qiagen said it had around $380.4 million in cash and equivalents and $99.3 million in marketable securities as of June 30.
Taking into account the recent Digene buy, Qiagen raised its revenue guidance for full-year 2007 by as much as 19 percent to between $614 million and $635 million from between $518 million and $535 million.

Invitrogen’s Q2 Revenue Rises 13 Percent as Profit Doubles
Invitrogen last week said that its second-quarter revenue climbed 13 percent as research and development spending rose 11 percent and net income was up 108 percent.
Total revenues for the three months ended June 30 rose to $321.7 million from $285.4 million year over year.
R&D spending increased to $28.6 million from $25.8 million year over year.
The company said net income grew to $40.9 million from $19.7 million in the year-ago period. This year's profit includes $11.5 million in income from discontinued operations compared with $678,000 for the same item in last year's second quarter.
Invitrogen said it had around $570.1 million in cash and equivalents and short-term investments as of June 30, 2006.
"The intense focus we placed on operations, IT infrastructure, and integrations during the last twelve months is delivering results," said Invitrogen CEO Greg Lucier.
The company said it expects full-year revenue growth for 2007 to be in the mid-single digits.
During a conference call to discuss the financial results, Lucier noted that its RNAi tools business has experienced a “marked pick-up in the last couple of quarters.” He added that the segment’s growth is in the double digits, but declined to disclose specific sales figures.

The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.