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RNAx and Funakoshi, Beyond Genome 2004, NeoPharm, Nucleonics, and AVI BioPharma


RNAx Inks Japanese Distribution Deal with Funakoshi

RNAx said this week that it has signed a deal under which its siRNA oligonucleotide and genetic target validation services will be marketed in Japan exclusively by Funakoshi.

“We are happy to be able to collaborate with Funakoshi to enter the very interesting Japanese market,” RNAx CEO Joerg Poetzsch said in a statement. “Experience has shown that local presence of native experts who are familiar with the customs of a given country plays a key role in successfully operating at a foreign market.”

Beyond Genome 2004 to Include Two Days of RNAi Discussions

The Beyond Genome 2004 meeting, organized by Cambridge Healthtech Institute, has been scheduled and is slated to include two days of RNAi discussions.

The conference is being held June 21-24 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. The program will feature a number of RNAi-related presentations focusing on such topics as RNAi in target validation, genome-wide RNAi screens, microRNAs, therapeutic applications of RNAi, and delivery of RNAi compounds.

Speakers scheduled to attend include Oliver Steinbach from the Altana Research Institute, Aimee Jackson from Rosetta Inpharmatics, and David Root from MIT.

Details about the event, including registration information, can be found at

NeoPharm Presents Data on siRNA Delivery Technology

NeoPharm said this week that it has presented data detailing the efficacy of its NeoPhectin-AT cationic cardiolipin technology for delivering siRNAs.

The data, presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting, showed that siRNAs delivered through intravenous tail vein injection in mice using NeoPhectin technology were transfected with five times more efficiency than siRNAs delivered with a leading commercial product, said the company.

“The company is committed to bringing new products to the market,” NeoPharm president and CEO James Hussey said in a statement. “We are hopeful that the development of NeoPhectin-AT will be an important step towards successful delivery of nucleic acids.”

Nucleonics Raises $40.9 Million in Financing Round

Nucleonics said this week that it has raised $40.9 million through a Series B round of financing.

The financing was led by New Enterprise Associates, and included new investors such as HealthCap, Burrill & Company, Anthem Capital Management, and POSCO BioVentures, said Nucleonics.

Nucleonics also reported additions to its board of directors (see this issue’s People section on p. 2).

“We expect this financing to support the development of our lead product candidate through phase II clinical testing, as well as to further the development of our technology platform overall,” Robert Towarnicki, president and CEO of Nucleonics, said in a statement.

Nucleonics said that it also expects the financing to help it develop a second-generation receptor-targeted active delivery system that will help expand applications of the company’s RNAi technology beyond liver diseases to inflammatory disorders and cancer.

Nucleonics noted that it expects to receive the full proceeds of the financing in three tranches based on the attainment of certain milestones, adding that it plans to file an investigational new drug application for its hepatitis B therapeutic candidate in 2005.

AVI Reports on Two Antisense Drug Compounds at AACR

AVI BioPharma said this week that it has presented data on two of its antisense drug compounds at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting.

According to the company, data indicates that its antisense cancer drug AVI-4126 concentrates in tumor cells with a single dose.

“The fact that we achieved bioavailability in the target tissues after only a sigle dose ... suggests that once-a-day dosing may be possible,” Patrick Iversen, senior vice president of research and development at AVI, said in a statement.

Data on the second antisense compound, which is designed to block the production of a protein that confers chemotherapy resistance, showed that the drug could help induce apoptosis in chemotherapy-resistant prostate cancer cells when administered in combination with cisplatin.

“Our second study demonstrated how antisense can be used to increase overall cancer cell sensitivity to chemotherapy,” Iversen added. “We showed it is possible to make the [cancer] cells sensitive to chemotherapy again, which means that can still be treated effectively.”

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.