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Nucleonics, Benitec, US Supreme Court, Proteologics, Helicos, Rosetta Genomics, Roche Molecular Systems, Oxford BioMedica, Carnegie Institution, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Michal J. Fox Foundation, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

Nucleonics Asks Supreme Court to Hear Benitec Case
An official from Nucleonics confirmed this week that it has asked the US Supreme Court to hear a patent-infringement lawsuit filed against the company by Benitec that had previously been dismissed by a Federal Court.
Benitec originally sued Nucleonics in 2004 to force the company to license its core US patent, No. 6,573,099, but the Australian company eventually persuaded the court to dismiss the case because the legal row was draining its bank account and tarnishing its image.
After a US Federal Appeals Court earlier this year rejected Nucleonics’ request to re-open the case and force a ruling on the validity of Benitec’s patent, the company requested a so-called en banc review of the case, claiming that the court had erred in dismissing its appeal (see RNAi News, 7/26/2007).


Nucleonics said at the time that the appeals court’s decision was made “on technical grounds of subjective matter jurisdiction,” and noted that one of the three judges hearing the case supported the re-instatement of the lawsuit. Still, the appeals court denied the company’s request to re-hear the case.
Following the appeals court’s decision, Nucleonics had two options: drop the matter or file an appeal with the Supreme Court. According to Benitec, it chose the latter.
“We continue to believe that Benitec should not be able to hide their patent from scrutiny in the courts after initiating the suit against Nucleonics,” Nucleonics President and CEO Robert Towarnicki told RNAi News in an e-mail this week. “We remain firmly convinced the patent is invalid for a variety of reasons and want to make our case in court.”
Benitec said that it will review Nucleonics’ petition and that it will likely need to file an opposition brief.

Proteologics Issued US Patent on siRNA Against Ubiquitin Ligase
Israeli drug maker Proteologics said this week that it has been issued a US patent covering siRNA that silence hPOSH, a human protein the company has characterized as a ubiquitin ligase essential for HIV biogenesis.
“Even though we are focused on the development of novel small molecule-based therapeutics, the methodology we employ allows us to generate valuable [intellectual property] throughout the discovery process, as well,” Proteologics President and CEO Avishai Levy said in a statement.
The patent’s number is 7,268,227.

Helicos to Work with UMMS’ Ambros on microRNA Assay Development
Helicos BioSciences said this week that it is collaborating with microRNA pioneer and University of Massachusetts Medical School researcher Victor Ambros to develop an assay to characterize known species of miRNA, as well as discover new non-coding RNAs.
Specific terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

Rosetta Licenses Roche PCR Technology for miRNA Dx
Rosetta Genomics said this week that it licensed Roche Molecular Systems’ PCR technology for use in its microRNA-based diagnostic tests.
“We have now been granted licenses from both Roche and Nanogen for use of their respective PCR technologies for diagnostic use, and are looking forward to the launch of our first microRNA-based diagnostic tests in 2008,” Amir Avniel, president and CEO of Rosetta, said in a statement.
Rosetta announced last month that it has licensed Nanogen’s MGB probe technology for use in its miRNA diagnostics (see RNAi News, 12/13/2007).


Oxford BioMedica Licenses RNAi IP From Carnegie, UMMS
Oxford BioMedica said this week that it has licensed the fundamental RNAi-related intellectual property from the Carnegie Institution of Washington and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
The IP relates to RNAi gene silencing using lentiviral vector technology for human gene therapy applications, the company said.
Oxford BioMedica said it paid an upfront fee for the non-exclusive rights, as well as milestones and royalties.
Additional terms were not disclosed.

Michael J. Fox Foundation Commits $3.8M to RNAi Drug for Parkinson’s
The Michael J. Fox Foundation said last week that it has committed $3.8 million to the development of an RNAi-based treatment for Parkinson’s disease.
The funding will be shared by Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, which could receive up to $546,000 of the total money, as well as the Mayo Clinic of Jacksonville and The Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center.
In 2005, Alnylam first announced that it was being funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation to explore the possibility of developing an siRNA-based drug targeting alpha-synuclein, which plays a role in the development of Parkinson's disease (see RNAi News, 8/19/2005).

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.