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Sirna, Alnylam, Cenix, Bayer, Fisher, Cellomics, CytRx, Nastech, Isis, Lilly, Qiagen, Xantos, Bio-Rad


Sirna Posts Higher Q2 Revenues, Lower Losses

Sirna Therapeutics reported this week a sharp increase in second-quarter revenues, which helped to push down the company's losses.

The company posted revenues of $1.5 million in the quarter, up from $454,000 in the year-ago period, reflecting a surge in fees received from contract manufacturing services.

Sirna's second-quarter net loss arrived at $5.9 million, or $0.14 per share, versus $6.3 million, or $0.18 per share a year earlier.

Meanwhile, expenses rose to $7.6 million in the quarter from $6.8 million, as research and development spending climbed to $4.8 million from $4.7 million.

As of June 30, Sirna had $18.7 million in cash and marketable securities.

Sirna also provided an update of its R&D activities, stating that it expects to complete phase I clinical trials for its age-related macular degeneration drug Sirna-027 in the fourth quarter, and begin phase II testing in the first half of next year. Additionally, Sirna expects to file investigational new drug applications with US regulators for its hepatitis and dermatology compounds in 2006.

Alnylam Receives Broad European Patent Covering siRNA Targets

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals announced this week that the European Patent Office has granted the company a new patent covering siRNAs and targets.

The patent, No. 1352061, includes 103 allowed claims on therapeutic compositions, methods, and uses comprising siRNAs that are complementary to all mRNA sequences in over 125 disease target genes, the company said. The genes include targets the company is currently working on, such as VEGF and those expressed by influenza. The claimed targets also include oncogenes, cytokines, cell adhesion receptors, angiogenesis targets, apoptosis and cell cycle targets, and additional viral disease targets such as HCV and HIV, Alnylam added.

Alnylam acquired this intellectual property through its 2003 purchase of German RNAi shop Ribopharma.

Cenix Delivers Drug Targets to Bayer, Receives Milestone Payment

Cenix Bioscience announced this week that it has delivered to partner Bayer a collection of potential drug targets, which were identified using RNAi.

According to Cenix, the targets were identified as part of a December 2003 RNAi-based discovery collaboration in which cell-based assays originally developed by Bayer were adapted and optimized by Cenix to be run as high throughput RNAi screens.

Under the terms of the collaboration, Bayer acquired the first option to secure all rights to new target-related intellectual property generated by the project. According to Cenix, Bayer has sought patent protection on the targets just delivered, triggering an undisclosed milestone payment to Cenix.

Fisher to Acquire Imaging Firm Cellomics; Posts Higher Q2 Revenues, Earnings

Fisher Scientific said last week it will acquire cellular imaging company Cellomics for $49 million in cash. Fisher also reported increased revenues and earnings for the second quarter of 2005.

As reported earlier this week by Cell-Based Assay News, RNAi News' sister publication, the deal for Cellomics could be bolstered by Fisher's ownership of RNAi reagents firm Dharmacon.

"Dharmacon sells siRNA reagents and related products, and, lately, siRNA and HCS have gone hand in hand in research laboratories hoping to perform target ID and validation studies, as well as functional genomics research," Cell-Based Assay News reported.

Fisher said that it will closely collaborate with Carl Zeiss Jena, Cellomics' largest shareholder, in the high-content screening field. Cellomics had $13 million in revenues in 2004.

Fisher's revenues for the quarter increased 33 percent to $1.4 billion from $1 billion during the year-ago quarter. Excluding currency effects, organic revenues grew by 5.2 percent. Sales of scientific products and services accounted for 74 percent of total revenues this quarter.

The company did not break out its research and development expenses for the quarter.

The company had a net income this quarter of $101.4 million, or $.80 per share, more than double last year's $44.7 million, or $.64 per share, during the same period. This quarter's income included $16 million associated with discontinued operations, among them the sale of Atos Medical.

As of June 30, Fisher Scientific had $155.2 million in cash and cash equivalents.

CytRx Receives Instructions from FDA on Lifting Clinical Hold on ALS Study

The US Food and Drug Administration this week told CytRx that before a clinical hold would be lifted on the firm's amyotrophic lateral sclerosis candidate arimoclomol, currently in phase II studies, the company must first submit existing clinical data on a related drug, bimoclomol.

The FDA told the company that it must submit existing clinical data on bimoclomol because it has been more extensively tested for safety in humans than arimoclomol.

CytRx said the agency also instructed it to amend the protocol of the currently suspended phase II trial to add specific clinical tests to be administered to patients enrolled in the study.

"We are working diligently to satisfy the requirements cited by the FDA," Steven Kriegsman, president and CEO of CytRx, said in a statement. "We plan to submit our official response as quickly as possible and, following FDA review, we anticipate beginning this phase II trial for ALS before the end of the this year, and possibly within the third quarter."

Nastech Pulls Public Offering Cites Market Conditions

Nastech Pharmaceutical said last week that it has withdrawn its previously announced public offering of 1.5 million shares of common stock.

Nastech had intended to use the proceeds of the offering to support, among other things, its RNAi therapeutics research. However, "our present valuation requirements are not met by current market conditions," Steven Quay, chairman, president, and CEO of Nastech, said in a statement.

The company shares were trading around $12.80 as of midday Thursday.

Isis, Lilly Antisense Partnership Extended

Isis Pharmaceuticals said this week that its antisense drug discovery collaboration with Eli Lilly has been extended beyond its initial four-year term for another 24 months.

"Lilly has several antisense drug candidates derived from the collaboration that are in or approaching clinical trials," Stanley Crooke, chairman and CEO of Isis, said in a statement. "The goal of this extension is to continue identifying additional candidates for the Lilly pipeline."

Qiagen Posts Increased Q2 Revenues, Profit

Qiagen reported this week a slight rise in second-quarter sales and a jump in profit.

The company reported second-quarter sales of $100.4 million, versus $98.6 million a year earlier. Excluding $9.9 million of net sales related to the sale of its synthetic DNA business unit in the second quarter of 2004, consolidated net sales increased 13 percent from $88.7 million in 2004.

R&D costs for the period increased to $9.4 million from $9.3 million year over year.

Qiagen's net income for the quarter climbed 57 percent to $13.8 million, or $.09 per share, compared with $8.8 million, or $.06 per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Qiagen said it had around $157 million cash and equivalents, and $51.8 million in marketable securities as of June 30.

Qiagen Inks Co-Marketing Deal with Xantos

Qiagen said this week it will co-market its TOM-amidite chemistry-based genome-wide RNAi products with Xantos Biomedicine's automated cell-based screening platform, XantoScreen.

Specific terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

Bio-Rad Q2 Earnings Down Despite Revenue Growth

Bio-Rad Laboratories last week reported increased revenues and a drop in earnings for the second quarter of 2005.

Revenues for the quarter totaled $291.3 million, up 11.8 percent over last year's $260.5 million during the same period. This increase was due to strong sales in the areas of diabetes monitoring, blood virus screening, quality controls, protein expression analysis, and amplification products. This latter category grew in part because of Bio-Rad's acquisition of MJ Research.

Research and development costs increased to $28.5 million from $25.5 million during the same quarter a year ago.

Bio-Rad's net income for the quarter fell 9.3 percent to $18.4 million, or $.71 per share, from $22.9 million, or $.79 per share, during last year's second quarter. The company attributed this decrease to its continuing investment in systems and infrastructure and increased interest expenses associated with the sale of bonds at the end of last year.

As of June 30, Bio-Rad had $252.1 million in cash and cash equivalents, $35.6 million in restricted cash, and $91.3 million in short-term investments.

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.