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Strands for Jan 8, 2009

Quark Begins Phase I/II Trial of Delayed Graft Function Drug
Quark Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has dosed the first patient in a phase I/II trial of its systemic siRNA-based drug for the prevention of delayed graft function in patients undergoing kidney transplantation.
The drug, QPI-1002, which was formally called DGFi, is designed to temporarily inhibit the expression of the pro-apoptotic gene p53. The company first announced that it had received clearance to begin the phase I/II trial in June (see RNAi News, 6/26/2008).
According to Quark, the trial will enroll up to 204 adult kidney-transplant patients in the US. The first part of the trial is designed to evaluate the safety and tolerability of a single intravenous injection of QPI-1002 in escalating doses in renal transplant patients at high risk to develop delayed graft function. The second part of the trial will evaluate the safety and potential clinical activity of a selected dose in the same patient population.

Rosetta Inks miRNA Dx Distribution Deal for Israel, Turkey with Teva
Rosetta Genomics said this week that it has signed an agreement under which Israeli drugmaker Teva Pharmaceuticals will exclusively distribute Rosetta’s microRNA-based diagnostics in Israel and Turkey.
Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.
The deal with Teva comes just weeks after Rosetta’s President and CEO Amir Avniel said that the company was on the lookout for partners to distribute its recently launched miRNA diagnostics both in the US and overseas (see RNAi News, 12/31/2008).
Already, Rosetta has introduced three tests based on the non-coding RNAs: miRview Meso, which differentiates lung cancer from mesothelioma; miRview Mets, which is designed to determine the source of cancers of unknown primary origin; and miRview Squamous, which is designed to differentiate squamous from non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer.

Abbott Signs Deal to Use Liquidia Technology for siRNA Drug Delivery
Nanotechnology firm Liquidia Technologies said this week that it will collaborate with Abbott on the development of nanoparticles for siRNA-based drug delivery.
Under the terms of the arrangement, Liquidia will provide Abbott with certain rights to its so-called PRINT, or Pattern Replication In Non-wetting Templates, technology, which the company said allows for the creation of precisely sized and shaped nanoparticles.
Additional terms were not disclosed.
"By combining Abbott's research and development capabilities with Liquidia's particle design and delivery expertise, we hope to enable the use of siRNA for therapy and provide more targeted, effective treatment options for cancer patients,” Liquidia CEO Neal Fowler said in a statement.
Abbott’s interest in RNAi therapeutics extends back to 2006, when the company forged a partnership with Thermo Fisher Scientific subsidiary Dharmacon to identify therapeutic siRNAs for multiple indications, with an initial focus on cancer (see RNAi News, 7/13/2006).

Tekmira Says Alnylam Manufacturing Deal Could Yield $11.2M Over Three Years
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals this week said that it expects to receive a minimum of $11.2 million over the next three years for conducting process development and manufacturing work for partner Alnylam Pharmaceuticals.
In early 2007, Alnylam signed a deal with Inex Pharmaceuticals, which later became Tekmira, under which Inex would provide contract manufacturing services on an exclusive basis for Alnylam-proprietary products (see RNAi News, 1/11/2007).

IDT to Use Li-Cor Biosciences' Infrared Dyes in Oligo Production
Integrated DNA Technologies said this week that it has signed an agreement allowing it to manufacture oligos for sale worldwide using Li-Cor Biosciences’ infrared dyes.
Under the agreement, IDT has gained the right to use Li-Cor’s IRDye 700, IRDye 800, and IRDye 800CW. These dyes are designed to be alternatives to fluorophore labeling and to extend sequence read-length and base accuracy for DNA sequencing.
Li-Cor stopped manufacturing its custom IRDye labeled oligos in November, and it now is recommending IDT to supply custom oligos with these infrared dyes, IDT said.

Arrowhead Misstates Fiscal 2008 Losses, Reports Correct Figures
Arrowhead Research, the parent company of Calando Pharmaceuticals, said last month in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it had incorrectly reported its net loss and loss per share for fiscal 2008.
The company had previously reported that it lost $25.8 million, or $0.66 per share, for the 12-month period ended Sept. 30. The company said in the SEC filing that its actual net loss was $27.1 million, or $0.69 per share.

Abbott Completes Ibis Acquisition
Abbott said this week that it has completed its acquisition of molecular diagnostics firm Ibis Biosciences from Isis Pharmaceuticals for total consideration of $215 million plus earn-out payments.
Abbott said last month that it had exercised its option to acquire the remaining 81.4 percent stake of Ibis Biosciences that it didn’t already own for $175 million.
Earlier in 2008, Abbott acquired an 18.6 percent stake in Ibis, which is the molecular diagnostics subsidiary of Isis Pharmaceuticals, in two tranches for $40 million. At that time, it took an exclusive option to acquire the remaining interest in Ibis by June 30, 2009, for $175 million to $195 million, plus an earn-out tied to sales of instruments and assay kits.
Ibis sells the Ibis T5000 Biosensor System, which is used for rapid identification and characterization of infectious agents. It is currently used for research purposes, but Abbott intends to seek US Food and Drug Administration clearance of the system for clinical diagnostics applications.