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Open Biosystems, Rosetta, NYU Medical, RXi Pharmaceuticals, Cellectricon, sis, Ortho-McNeil

Open Biosystems Adds Three New Customers to Open Access Program
Open Biosystems said last week that it has added three new academic institutions to its Open Access RNAi Program, which the company established in order to make its genome-wide shRNA libraries more affordable for its academic customer base (see RNAi News, 2/2/2006).
Joining the program are Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Minnesota, and the Mayo Clinic, Open Biosystems said.
Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Rosetta, NYU Medical to Collaborate on miRNA-Based Melanoma Diagnostic
Rosetta Genomics said last week that it will collaborate with NYU Medical Center on the development of a microRNA-based diagnostic for melanoma.
Terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.
"There is a large and growing body of scientific evidence pointing to microRNAs' potential as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for various types of cancers,” Dalia Cohen, executive vice president of global research and development at Rosetta, said in a statement. “We believe our work with world renowned experts in melanoma … at NYU, and deploying the proprietary tools developed at Rosetta Genomics for microRNA extraction, identification and quantification, will help to more fully understand melanoma and subsequently the prognosis of melanoma patients."

RXi Licenses RNAi Technologies from TriLink for Rx Applications
RXi Pharmaceuticals, the RNAi drugs spinout of CytRx, said this week that it has signed an agreement to exclusively license three RNAi chemistry technologies for therapeutic applications from TriLink Biotechnologies.
The deal includes rights to sublicense a patented RNA linker technology, a patent application on novel RNAi compositions, and a novel, undisclosed chemistry approach that has potential applications in improving existing RNAi compounds, RXi said.
The arrangement calls for RXi to make undisclosed upfront and yearly licensing payments, royalties of less than one percent on sales of products developed using the technologies, and milestone payments.
Additional terms were not disclosed.

Swiss Institute to Evaluate New Cellectricon RNAi Screening System
Cellectricon said this week that it has signed a deal under which its yet-to-be released Cellaxess-HT high-throughput electroporation system for RNAi screening will be evaluated by Switzerland’s Icole Polytechnique Fidirale de Lausanne.
The system is set to be officially launched in the second quarter of next year.
Specific terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

Isis, Ortho-McNeil Ink Antisense Drug Deal for Metabolic Diseases
Isis Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has formed a broad collaboration with Ortho-McNeil, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, to discover, develop, and market antisense drugs to treat metabolic diseases including type 2 diabetes.
As part of the arrangement, Isis will grant Ortho-McNeil worldwide development rights to two of its existing diabetes drug candidates, ISIS 325568 and ISIS 377131, which are designed to inhibit the production of glucagon receptor and glucocorticoid receptor, respectively.
After an initial collaborative phase, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development will take over all development work on the two drugs.
In exchange, Isis will be paid a $45 million upfront licensing fee and will receive research and development funding over the term of the collaboration. The deal could be worth in excess of $230 million to Isis should both ISIS 325568 and ISIS 377131 be successfully developed and commercialized.

The Scan

Study Finds Sorghum Genetic Loci Influencing Composition, Function of Human Gut Microbes

Focusing on microbes found in the human gut microbiome, researchers in Nature Communications identified 10 sorghum loci that appear to influence the microbial taxa or microbial metabolite features.

Treatment Costs May Not Coincide With R&D Investment, Study Suggests

Researchers in JAMA Network Open did not find an association between ultimate treatment costs and investments in a drug when they analyzed available data on 60 approved drugs.

Sleep-Related Variants Show Low Penetrance in Large Population Analysis

A limited number of variants had documented sleep effects in an investigation in PLOS Genetics of 10 genes with reported sleep ties in nearly 192,000 participants in four population studies.

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.