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Sirna, Alnylam, IDT, ABI, Ambion, CEA, New England Biolabs, Avecia, TriLink


Sirna Q4, 2005 Losses Fall on Lower Operating Costs

Sirna Therapeutics reported this week its financial results for the fourth-quarter and full-year 2005, posting a drop in losses amid lower operating costs.

For the fourth quarter, Sirna's net loss was $5.8 million, or $0.10 per share, versus a year-ago loss of $8.9 million, or $0.23 per share. For 2005, the company's net loss fell to $23.9 million, or $0.48 per share, from $28.9 million, or $0.81 per share.

Operating expenses in the fourth quarter shrunk to $7.3 million from $9.6 million, while full-year costs dropped to $29.9 million from $30.6 million in 2004. Sirna said that its fourth-quarter 2004 expenses were higher primarily because of its acquisition of Skinetics, which formed the basis for its dermatology division (see RNAi News, 12/10/2004).

For the fourth quarter, Sirna's revenues rose slightly, to $1 million from $692,000 in the same period a year earlier, while revenues in 2005 jumped to $4.9 million from $1.5 million the year before. Revenues during the year increased primarily due to a $1.8 million milestone received from Eli Lilly through the companies' oncology collaboration (see RNAi News, 1/30/2004), as well as a $1.7 million increase in contract manufacturing revenues.

As of Dec. 31, 2005, Sirna had cash and marketable securities totaling $45.7 million. Sirna said about $25 million of this will be used to fund the company's operations during 2006, although the company noted that this figure could be partially offset by potential new collaboration fees received during the year.

Alnylam Licenses RNAi IP to IDT

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has granted Integrated DNA Technology a non-exclusive license to provide RNAi research products and services under Alnylam's Kreutzer-Limmer patent family.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Alnylam acquired the IP through its purchase of German-based Ribopharma, now Alnylam Europe, in 2003.

"This [deal] brings the number of license agreements Alnylam has executed granting rights to [its IP] to 20, including 11 with research product suppliers," Roland Kreutzer, managing director of Alnylam Europe, said in a statement.

ABI Wraps Up $273M Acquisition of Ambion's RNA Business

Applied Biosystems has closed its acquisition of the research products division of Ambion.

The $273-million cash acquisition, which the firms announced in late December, enables ABI to enter the consumables market for sample prep, RNAi, microRNA, and gene-expression and array products.

The market in which this business plays is believed to be around $500 million market and grows more than 10 percent annually, according to ABI.

The research products division has about 300 employees, and will continue to be based in Austin. It will report to ABI's molecular biology division.

According to ABI, Ambion stands to generate more than $52 million in revenue in 2005, which would be a 22-percent improvement over last year's receipts.

CEA Licenses RNAi Products to New England Biolabs

CEA Valorisation said this week that it has non-exclusively licensed its enzymatic synthesis process for double-stranded RNA to New England Biolabs.

Financial details were not provided.

CEA is funded by the French government.

Avecia and TriLink to Integrate Technology

Avecia and TriLink said this week that they will adopt common technology to offer customers "seamless" scale-up in oligo development and manufacturing.

Avecia is a GMP oligo manufacturer based in Millford, Mass., while TriLink, based in San Diego, is a custom oligonucleotide manufacturer with a focus on the discovery and pre-clinical stages of drug discovery.

The companies said that the alliance will speed the manufacture of oligos for drug discovery, development, and commercialization, and will offer an option for drugmakers "looking to minimize the challenges and risks associated with transitioning from a research-grade vendor to an oligonucleotide development service and manufacturing company."

Benefits of the common technology platform include "regulatory simplicity, cost control, time savings and risk minimization," the companies said.

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.