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RXi Pharmaceuticals, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Dharmacon, Nastech Pharmaceutical, MDRNA

RXi Licenses RNAi Sequences Developed by Dharmacon
RXi Pharmaceuticals said last week that it has licensed certain RNAi sequences to an undisclosed number of target genes from Thermo Fisher Scientific.
According to RXi, the license includes sequences generated by Thermo Fisher Scientific subsidiary Dharmacon and related to type II diabetes, obesity, neurology, and oncology.
RXi said it also obtained the right to license additional RNAi sequences against additional targets.
Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

Nastech Completes Transfer of RNAi IP to Spinout
Nastech Pharmaceutical this week announced that it has completed the transfer of its RNAi-related intellectual property to MDRNA, a planned public spinout that will focus on developing therapeutics based on the gene-silencing technology.
“The transfer of intellectual property rights for RNA-based therapeutics from Nastech to MDRNA is an important step in the process of creating MDRNA as an independent company,” Steven Quay, chairman, president, and CEO of Nastech, said in a statement. “We believe MDRNA independence will ultimately enhance Nastech shareholder value … and will be important in attracting external funding for MDRNA.”
With the transfer of its RNAi IP — which includes numerous patent applications related to RNA-based drugs and diagnostics, the use of RNAi agents to treat respiratory diseases such as influenza and asthma, and the therapeutic use of Dicer-substrate molecules (see RNAi News, 11/9/2006) — to MDRNA, Nastech’s next step towards establishing the new company’s independence will be to seek roughly $20 million in independent financing from institutional investors and venture capitalists.


At the same time, Nastech is gearing up to announce MDRNA’s management team and staff the spinout with the approximately 45 employees currently working on RNAi in-house. Nastech expects to complete these steps in the first quarter of 2008.
In the second quarter, Nastech aims to distribute a portion of its MDRNA stock to its current shareholders in the form of a dividend, then float MDRNA’s shares on the Nasdaq exchange.

The Scan

Study Finds Sorghum Genetic Loci Influencing Composition, Function of Human Gut Microbes

Focusing on microbes found in the human gut microbiome, researchers in Nature Communications identified 10 sorghum loci that appear to influence the microbial taxa or microbial metabolite features.

Treatment Costs May Not Coincide With R&D Investment, Study Suggests

Researchers in JAMA Network Open did not find an association between ultimate treatment costs and investments in a drug when they analyzed available data on 60 approved drugs.

Sleep-Related Variants Show Low Penetrance in Large Population Analysis

A limited number of variants had documented sleep effects in an investigation in PLOS Genetics of 10 genes with reported sleep ties in nearly 192,000 participants in four population studies.

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.