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Silence Therapeutics, US Patent and Trademark Office, Integrated DNA Technologies, Pfizer, Quark Pharmaceuticals, Silence Therapeutics, Invitrogen, Applied Biosystems, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Silence Therapeutics Issued Notice of Allowance for Core US IP
Silence Therapeutics announced this week that the US Patent and Trademark Office has allowed the company’s core US patent application.
Specifically, the USPTO has issued a notice of allowance for US patent application No. 20040180351 entitled “Interfering RNA Molecules.” The application claims a “ribonucleic acid comprising a double-stranded structure … whereby the first strand comprises a first stretch of contiguous nucleotides and … and is at least partially complementary to a target nucleic acid, and the second strand comprises a second stretch of contiguous nucleotides … [and] is at least partially identical to a target nucleic acid,” according to its abstract.
The dsRNA of the invention is also blunt ended, the abstract notes.
“This patent allowance protects our [proprietary RNAi] technology and our proprietary siRNA molecules in the United States, the largest pharmaceutical market in the world,” Silence President and CEO Iain Ross said in a statement. “With the US patent allowance, we are now significantly better positioned to achieve our goal of becoming one of the leading companies in the field of RNAi therapeutics and delivery."

IDT Completes Expansion of Belgian Facility
Integrated DNA Technologies this week announced that it has completed expansion work on its European facility in Leuven, Belgium.
“With over 20 employees and the capability to produce around 4000 oligos daily at our European facility, we are now able to provide our customers … service … support, and a fuller range of IDT’s products — all from right here in Europe,” Bonnie Barney, senior vice president of European sales and marketing for IDT, said in a statement.

Pfizer Moves RNAi-Based AMD Drug into Phase II for Diabetic Macular Edema
Quark Pharmaceuticals said this week that partner Pfizer has begun dosing patients in a phase II trial of PF-4523655, an siRNA-based drug the company licensed from Quark, in patients with diabetic macular edema.
With the start of the trial, Quark said it has received an undisclosed milestone payment from Pfizer. Silence Therapeutics, which licensed to Quark the rights to use certain siRNA structures in PF-4523655, said separately this week that it will be paid a $1.9 million milestone by Quark as a result of the new study.
Originally called RTP801i-14, PF-4523655 targets RTP-801, a gene found to play a role in angiogenesis, vascular permeability, and retinal neuron death. Quark licensed the drug, as well as the use of the RTP-801 gene as a target for ocular disease, in 2006 (see RNAi News, 8/28/2006).
Already, the drug has been evaluated in a phase I/II trial as a treatment for wet age-related macular generation. Pfizer said that it is considering conducting an additional phase II trial in AMD.

Invitrogen's Acquisition of Applied Biosystems Clears Antitrust Waiting Period
Invitrogen said this week that its proposed acquisition of Applied Biosystems has cleared the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.
Invitrogen said it will “soon” begin a similar process with European regulatory authorities.
The acquisition is expected to close in late October or early November, subject to approval of both companies' shareholders.
Invitrogen said that integration team members from both companies met last week “to discuss proposed milestones and activities for the integration and further review proposed synergies.”
Mark Smedley, Invitrogen's global head of operations and leader of the integration team, said in a statement that the companies have “a clear integration model in place and we are well on track to start delivering on the potential of our new company as soon as the transaction closes."

Thermo Fisher Posts 14 Percent Revenue Growth in Q2
Thermo Fisher Scientific last week reported second-quarter revenues of $2.71 billion, up 14 percent from revenues of $2.39 billion in the comparable quarter of 2007. Organic revenue growth for the quarter was 8 percent.
The firm said that revenues for its Analytical Technologies segment grew 14 percent to $1.16 billion from $1.02 billion year over year. Its Laboratory Products and Services segment had revenues of $1.66 billion, also up 14 percent year over year, from revenues of $1.45 billion.
“We are especially pleased with our performance given the global economic environment,” Thermo Fisher President and CEO Marijn Dekkers said during a conference call last week. “We have not seen any significant change [in end markets] from what we have reported to you so far this year.”
He said the firm had above-average growth in its scientific instruments business, specialty diagnostics business, and biopharma services business. “From a market point of view, our major life sciences and healthcare markets remain strong in general, with particular strength in the demand from CROs,” Dekkers said.
Thermo Fisher’s profit increased 52.2 percent to $249.5 million, or $0.57 per share, from $163.9 million, or $0.37 per share, in Q2 of 2007. The firm took charges of $151.6 million related to amortization of acquisition-related intangible assets compared to charges of $142.1 million for similar items in the second quarter of 2007.
The company’s R&D costs rose 9.7 percent to $64.4 million from $58.7 million, while its SG&A expenses increased 12.3 percent to $578 million from $514.7 million.
Thermo Fisher finished the quarter with $1 billion in cash and cash equivalents.
Company officials said that they are maintaining their revenue guidance for full-year 2008 of $10.6 billion to $10.7 billion. They raised the low end of the firm’s adjusted earnings per share guidance by $.04 to a range of $3.11 to $3.17.

The Scan

Rise of BA.5

The New York Times reports that the Omicron subvariant BA.5 has become the dominant version of SARS-CoV-2 in the US.

UK Health Secretary Resigns

Sajid Javid, the UK health secretary, resigned along with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, saying they cannot work with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government, CNN reports.

Clones From Freeze-Dried Cells

A team in Japan has cloned mice from freeze-dried skin cells, according to the Guardian.

Genome Research Papers on Craniosynostosis, Macaque Retrotransposition, More

In Genome Research this week: structural variants in craniosynostosis, LINE-1 activity in rhesus macaque brain, and more.