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Quark Pharmaceuticals, Isis Pharmaceuticals, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Roche, Opko Health, Kylin Therapeutics, Luminex, Exiqon, Protiva

Quark Drops Bid for $67.3M Nasdaq IPO
Quark Pharmaceuticals has dropped plans for an initial public offering on the Nasdaq exchange that could have been worth as much as $67.3 million, a company spokesperson confirmed this week.
Quark had previously filed to float its shares at between $12 and $14 each in order to raise capital for R&D activities, general administrative operations, and for working capital and general corporate purposes (see RNAi News, 6/7/2007).

Isis to Receive $26.5M from Alnylam After Roche IP Deal
Isis Pharmaceuticals said this week that it will receive about $26.5 million from Alnylam Pharmaceuticals as its portion of the upfront fees Alnylam will receive from Roche under their recently announced alliance (see related story, this issue).
Isis also stands to receive future milestones and royalties.
The payment to Isis stems from a 2004 deal under which Alnylam and Isis cross-licensed each others’ IP portfolios (see RNAi News, 3/19/2004). Some of Isis’ IP was included in Alnylam’s deal with Roche.
"Isis' technology and intellectual property have proven to be critical in creating siRNAs with drug-like properties,” Alnylam President and CEO John Maraganore said in a statement. “The rapid advancement of RNAi therapeutics is in part due to the pioneering work of Isis in virtually every area of oligonucleotide technology."

Opko Begins Phase III Trial of RNAi-Based AMD Drug
Opko Health this week said it has begun a phase III study of its siRNA-based treatment for wet age-related macular degeneration, marking the first time an RNAi therapeutic has reached this final stage of clinical development.
As first reported by RNAi News last month, the study will evaluate the RNAi drug, called bevasiranib, as a maintenance therapy for the disease in combination with Genentech’s Lucentis (see RNAi News, 6/28/2007).
The trial is called COBALT for “Combination of Bevasiranib and Lucentis Therapies” for AMD. It is a phase III, randomized, double-blinded, parallel-assignment study of the RNAi drug administered every 8 or 12 weeks as a maintenance therapy following three injections of Lucentis,
Opko said the study will enroll more than 330 AMD patients.
"Currently patients with wet AMD undergo intravitreal injections every four weeks to achieve the vision-preserving benefits of Lucentis, so the potential ability of bevasiranib to achieve similar results while requiring less frequent injections would be an important benefit for these patients who often have limited mobility,” Philip Frost, chairman and CEO of Opko, said in a statement.

Startup Kylin Therapeutics Licenses pRNA Tech from Purdue
RNAi drugs startup Kylin Therapeutics said this week that it has exclusively licensed a proprietary RNAi therapeutic technology from Purdue University.
The agreement includes more than 12 patent applications related to pRNA, or packaging RNA.
Additional terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

Exiqon to Distribute FlexmiR MicroRNA Products Developed With Luminex
Luminex and Exiqon said this week that they have struck an agreement under which Exiqon will non-exclusively distribute a line of microRNA products the companies designed for Luminex’s xMAP platform last year.
The FlexmiR product line is based on Luminex’s xMAP technology and Exiqon’s locked nucleic acid technology.
The deal also gives Exiqon non-exclusive rights to sell Luminex systems worldwide.
Financial terms of the agreement were not released.
The companies claim FlexmiR can deliver more than 6,300 data points in four hours.

Protiva Closes $3.3M Debt Financing
Protiva Biotherapeutics said last week that it has completed a convertible debenture financing with commitments of Cdn$3.5 million ($3.3 million).
"This latest round of financing underscores the strong support we continue to receive from our investors and reflects the progress we have made on several fronts," Mark Murray, Protiva's president and CEO, said in a statement. "We are well positioned to continue advancing the development of new therapeutic products and business alliances while aggressively pursuing our claims in court against Tekmira Pharmaceuticals (see RNAi News, 5/17/2007) … and against Sirna Therapeutics” (see RNAi News, 3/22/2007).

The Scan

Alzheimer's Risk Gene Among Women

CNN reports that researchers have found that variants in MGMT contribute to Alzheimer's disease risk among women but not men.

Still Hanging Around

The Guardian writes that persistent pockets of SARS-CoV-2 in the body could contribute to long COVID.

Through a Little Spit

Enteric viruses like norovirus may also be transmitted through saliva, not just the fecal-oral route, according to New Scientist.

Nature Papers Present Method to Detect Full Transcriptome, Viruses Infecting Asgard Archaea, More

In Nature this week: VASA-seq approach to detect full transcriptome, analysis of viruses infecting Asgard archaea, and more.