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Rosetta Genomics, Nanogen, Asuragen, Columbia University Medical Center, Merck, Sirna Therapeutics, Copernicus Therapeutics, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics

Rosetta Genomics Selects Nanogen Technology for miRNA Diagnostics
Rosetta Genomics said this week that it has selected Nanogen’s MGB probe technology as the technological platform for its planned microRNA-based diagnostics.
Rosetta said that licensing the technology will allow it to create a line of quantitative real-time PCR diagnostics based on the small, non-coding RNA.
Rosetta aims to launch its first three miRNA diagnostics next year, including two for differentiating certain types of lung cancer and one for identifying the source of cancers of unknown primary origin (see RNAi News, 8/9/2007).

Asuragen Closes $18.5M Series B Financing
Asuragen said this week that it has raised $18.5 million in a Series B round of financing, which builds on the $49 million Series A round that closed last year.
Asuragen said that the Series B included new and existing investors.
The company said that the money would be used to fund the development of oncology molecular diagnostics, including ones based on microRNA signatures, as well as miRNA-targeting cancer therapeutics.

Rosetta Genomics, Columbia Expand microRNA Dx Deal to Include Lymphomas
Rosetta Genomics this week announced that it will expand its microRNA-based diagnostic development deal with Columbia University Medical Center to include three types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Specifically, the partners will work to develop early-detection and prognosis tests for diffuse large cell lymphoma, transformed follicular lymphoma, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
"We are constantly expanding our pipeline with new diagnostic and therapeutic programs, both cancer and non-cancer related,” Amir Avniel, president and CEO of Rosetta Genomics, said in a statement. "We are very excited to be collaborating with a leading research institution such as Columbia University Medical Center, and hope more collaboration will follow."
In May, Rosetta first announced that it was working with Columbia on the company’s cancer of unknown primary origin diagnostics (see RNAi News, 5/24/2007).

Merck Provides No Details on RNAi Programs During Business Briefing
Merck this week updated its product pipeline during its annual business briefing for analysts and investors, but provided no new information regarding the various RNAi drug candidates it picked up through its acquisition of Sirna Therapeutics (see RNAi News, 1/4/2007).


Despite Merck’s silence on its RNAi pipeline, details about certain of Sirna’s partnered or out-licensed programs have trickled out: Sirna’s wet age-related macular degeneration, which was licensed to Allergan in 2005 (see RNAi News, 10/7/2005), is in phase II testing. Earlier this year, an official from Targeted Genetics, which partnered with Sirna on its Huntington’s disease program in 2005 (see RNAi News, 1/14/2005), said that their effort is progressing but not expected to enter clinical studies until 2008 (see RNAi News, 5/24/2007).
A Merck spokesperson confirmed, however, that the company is not providing updates on its in-house RNAi programs just yet.
Merck is due to update its pipeline again in February.

Copernicus Receives Milestone for Experimental Cystic Fibrosis Rx Development
Copernicus Therapeutics said this week that it has received a milestone payment from Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics, a non-profit affiliate of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, related to a non-viral gene therapy for cystic fibrosis.
Copernicus, which is developing a DNA nanoparticle delivery technology for RNAi and other applications (see RNAi News, 6/14/2007), has been working with CFFT to develop a non-RNAi cystic fibrosis therapy that involves delivering a normal copy of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene to the lungs of patients.


The company said it received the milestone for demonstrating a significant improvement in the level of CFTR gene activity in an animal model.

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.