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Science s Genome-Wide Drosophila RNAi Screen, Genta and Aventis, Acuity, and Invitrogen

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Researchers Publish Details of Genome-Wide Drosophila RNAi Screen in Science

Science published late last week a paper detailing a genome-wide RNAi screen of Drosophila conducted by Norbert Perrimon of Harvard Medical School and colleagues.

According to the article, the researchers applied a high-throughput RNAi screen of 19,470 double-stranded RNAs in cultured cells in order to characterize the function of about 91 percent of the predicted Drosophila genes associated with growth and viability.

The researchers wrote that they found 438 dsRNAs that identified essential genes, of which 80 percent lack mutant alleles. Additionally, they applied a quantitative assay of cell number to identify genes of known and uncharacterized functions, they said.

The paper can be found in the Feb. 6 issue of Science.


FDA Accepts Application on Genta, Aventis Antisense Drug

Genta and Aventis said last week that the US Food and Drug Administration has accepted their new drug application for the antisense cancer drug Genasense (oblimersen sodium).

The NDA, said the companies, proposes approval of the drug for use in combination with dacarbazine to treat advanced melanoma in patients who have not previously received chemotherapy.

The companies also said that the FDA has granted priority review status to the NDA, setting June 8 as the target date for a regulatory decision by the agency.

Recently, Genta announced that its deal giving Aventis the market rights to the drug includes a provision passing the partnership onto a successor in the event of a change of control at French drugs giant. Aventis is in the middle of fighting a roughly $60 billion hostile takeover bid by peer Sanofi-Synthelabo.


Acuity Receives $500,000 in Financing from BioAdvance

Acuity Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has received $500,000 from investment group BioAdvance.

With this latest financing, Acuity said it has now raised a total of $3.7 million.

Acuity said it plans to use the proceeds of the BioAdvance funding to support preclinical development of its RNAi-based treatment for age-related macular degeneration, Cand5.

The company also reiterated this week its expectation that clinical trials of the drug would begin late this year.


Invitrogen Closes Acquisition of BioReliance

Invitrogen announced this week the closing of its acquisition of BioReliance in an all-cash deal conducted through its subsidiary entity, Baseball Acquisition.

BioReliance, a Rockville, Md.-based contract service organization, will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Invitrogen.

The acquisition comes a little more than four months after Invitrogen bought privately held Sequitur in a bid to expand its line of RNAi research products.