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Salk Institute, U of Marburg, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Quark Pharmaceuticals, University of Michigan, CytRx

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Salk Institute, U of Marburg Join Thermo Fisher Scientific RNAi Initiative
 
Thermo Fisher Scientific said this week that members of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the University of Marburg have joined the company’s RNAi Global Initiative.
 
The initiative was created in late 2005 by Dharmacon, now a subsidiary of Thermo Fisher Scientific, to put its siArray human genome siRNA library in the hands of researchers for genome-wide screening experiments in order to accelerate drug discovery and development (see RNAi News, 10/7/2005).
 
Members of the initiative also share data so as to help establish RNAi screening research standards.
 
With the addition of the Salk Institute and the University of Marburg, the RNAi Global Initiative now has members from 23 research institutions in 11 different countries, Thermo Fisher Scientific said.
 

 
Quark to Collaborate with University of Michigan on Hearing Loss Drug Candidate
 
Quark Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has formed a collaboration with the University of Michigan Kresge Hearing Research Institute to conduct preclinical studies of several siRNA compounds as therapies for noise-associated acute hearing loss.
 
According to Quark, the studies will include an animal model study to assess the ability to deliver these siRNA agents to relevant cochlear cells in the inner ear.
 
“The efficacy of the selected siRNA compounds before and after acoustic trauma, the residence time of siRNA in the inner ear cells, and the duration of the therapeutic siRNA effect will also be primary focuses of the studies,” the company added.
 
Quark is also currently developing another siRNA compound, AHLi-11, for the prevention of cisplatin-associated hearing loss. The company said it expects to file an investigational new drug application to begin human testing of this drug candidate before the end of 2007.
 

 
CytRx RNAi Drugs Unit to be Publicly Traded
 
Officials from CytRx said this week that the company is planning to spin out its RNAi drugs subsidiary, RXi Pharmaceuticals, into a separate, publicly traded company.
 
CytRx had been planning to spin out its RNAi drug operations since at least late 2005 (see RNAi News, 11/11/2005), and eventually did so early this year (see RNAi News, 1/11/2007).
 
While CytRx, which owns 86 percent of RXi, had always planned to divest its stake in the subsidiary to its shareholders, it wasn’t clear whether RXi would remain privately held.
 
During the UBS 2007 Global Life Sciences conference in New York this week, CytRx’s President and CEO Steven Kriegsman said that his company is in the process of filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to pass its stake in RXi to CytRx shareholders in the form of a dividend.
 
Following this move, RXi will be “a separately trading public company on Nasdaq,” he said.
 
Officials from CytRx and RXi were not available for additional comment by press time.