Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Regulus Therapeutics, a joint venture between Alnylam and Isis Pharmaceuticals, said this week that the US Patent and Trademark Office has issued a notice of allowance for a patent application covering several chemical classes of antisense-based microRNA antagonists.

The application, No. 20060058266, is entitled "Chemically modified oligonucleotides," and claims "composition and methods for making and using chemically modified oligonucleotide agents for inhibiting gene expression," according to its abstract.

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