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Sirna, Alnylam, Eurogentec, Sigma-Aldrich, CombiMatrix


Sirna Issued Two UK Patents Covering
VEGF, Hep C as siRNA Targets

Sirna Therapeutics said this week that the United Kingdom Patent Office has granted the company two patents covering vascular endothelial growth factor and hepatitis C as siRNA targets.

According to the company, the first patent, No. GB2406569, is entitled "RNA Interference Mediated Inhibition Of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor And Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor Gene Expression Using Short Interfering Nucleic Acid." This patent covers any chemically modified siRNA targeting VEGF, and its claims are not limited to any specific siRNA sequence, Sirna said.

The second patent, No. GB2397062, is entitled "RNA Interference Mediated Inhibition of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Gene Expression Using Short Interfering Nucleic Acid," Sirna said. It covers siRNAs with one or more chemical modifications targeting HCV, and is not limited to any specific siRNA sequence.

Alnylam Grants RNAi IP License to Eurogentec

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has non-exclusively licensed patents in its Kreutzer-Limmer IP portfolio to life science reagent supplier Eurogentec.

The license enables Eurogentec to use the IP for research products and services, Alnylam said. The patent family covers short interfering RNAs and their use to mediate RNAi in mammalian cells.

The agreement brings to 11 the number of companies to which Alnylam has licensed the patent family. Six of these firms are research product suppliers, the company said.

Sigma-Aldrich Restructures After Six-Month Market Study

Sigma-Aldrich will restructure its two life science and research businesses in an attempt to tap into its customer base more efficiently, the company said this week.

The organization will divide Sigma's existing scientific research and biotechnology businesses into three "customer-centric" units. Each unit will be overseen by a president, reporting to the company's president and chief operating officer.

The firm's SAFC business will not be affected, the company said.

Sigma said it took the steps, which take effect immediately, after a six-month market study. Sigma president and COO Jai Nagarkatti said the reorganization "should enable us to ... deliver 10 percent top and bottom line growth long-term."

The new business units will be:

  • Essentials, which represents 20 percent of the company's current sales, will offer "account management to largely economic buyers" in pharmaceutical, academic, and other commercial research organizations. Gilles Cottier, vice president of sales at Sigma, will head the unit.
  • Specialties, which represents 35 percent of the company's current sales, will sell Sigma's products through its web site and catalogs to lab scientists. David Julien, most recently president of Sigma's biotechnology business, will run this business.
  • Biotech, which represents 20 percent of the company's current sales, will sell certain research tools for life scientists. This group will be headed by Shaf Yousaf, most recently vice president of corporate R&D and biotech marketing.

SAFC, which represents 25 percent of Sigma's sales after the recent acquisition of JRH Biosciences, will sell fine chemical products and services. This unit "stands separate" from the other three. SAFC will continue to be led by Frank Wicks, who has served as the unit's president since January 2003.

Sigma said it plans to continue reporting sales results for the three existing scientific research, biotechnology, and SAFC units through 2005 and begin reporting under the new four-unit structure in 2006.

Additional details were not disclosed.

CombiMatrix's New Dx Unit in Talks with Possible Distributors, Customers

CombiMatrix Molecular Diagnostics, a newly created subsidiary of CombiMatrix, has begun negotiating with undisclosed potential distributors and customers, the company said this week.

As RNAi News' sister publication GenomeWeb News reported in May, the wholly owned business was created to focus on microarray-based diagnostics. Specifically, the business aims to be a testing center for clinicians who wish to use CombiMatrix' array technology for certain molecular diagnostics applications.

The unit will initially focus on developing cancer diagnostics using CombiMatrix's Desk Top Synthesizer, which was designed to enable researchers to build their own chips, Bret Undem, vice president of research at CombiMatrix said in May.

The unit has "begun efforts to build our first cancer diagnostic products based on CombiMatrix's CustomArray technology," Matthew Watson, CMD CEO, said in a statement today. He added that CMD has applied for "all appropriate licenses," including its Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment certification, which would enable its homebrew business. "We have also begun strategic alliance discussions with potential distributors and customers," Watson said.

Additional details were not disclosed.

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.