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Sirna, FDA, CytRx, New York Academy of Sciences, Genta, and Nature


SEC Releases Sirna Letter to Former CFO Detailing Terms of Resignation

The US Securities and Exchange Commission published this week Sirna Therapeutics’ annual report for the year ended 2003. Included with the financial statement was a company letter to former CFO Marvin Tancer.

Although the letter doesn’t detail the reasons behind Tancer’s departure from the company (see RNAi News, 1/2/2004), it does indicate that Tancer received a bonus of $25, 270, translating to roughly 20 percent of his 2003 salary of $266,000.

The letter also indicated that Tancer is entitled to receive as severance pay, in semi-monthly installments, his 2003 base salary and annual target bonus worth 20 percent of his salary until he obtains new employment or Sept. 30, whichever comes first.

Tancer is also entitled to six months’ worth of outplacement assistance at a cost of up to $6,000.

Sirna has not named a new CFO. Patti Ketchner, vice president and corporate controller, is currently the company’s acting principal financial and accounting officer.

FDA Accepts IND for HIV Vaccine Using CytRx Technology

CytRx said this week that the US Food and Drug Administration has accepted an investigational new drug application for a DNA-based HIV vaccine that uses technology the company has licensed. The agency’s move clears the product for testing in a phase I trial.

CytRx licensed the vaccine technology from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Advanced BioScience Laboratories. CytRx has previously said that a grant worth more than $15 million received from the National Institutes of Health will be sufficient to fund the phase I trial, which will be conducted by UMMS under a subcontracting arrangement.

The planned phase I trial is expected to enroll 36 people and last between 12 to 18 months, said CytRx.

“This is a landmark development and a major step forward in HIV vaccine research,” Shan Lu, associate professor of medicine and head of the HIV vaccine effort at UMMS, said in a statement. “Our vaccine is based on elements from primary virus isolates drawn from all over the world, and that, I think, will make a difference in the efficacy of the vaccine.”

Under the terms of a recently signed deal, CytRx will assume ownership of the vaccine, as well as any regulatory responsibilities, after the phase I trial is completed. Advanced BioScience has an option to acquire the vaccine’s commercial manufacturing rights.

NYAS Sets Date for Next RNAi Meeting

The New York Academy of Sciences has scheduled its third RNAi discussion group meeting for Thursday, May 27.

The event, entitled “Gene Regulation by RNAi,” will be held at the NYAS from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. A list of speakers is not yet available.

Details about registering to attend the event can be found at

Genta Announces Presentation of Antisense Drug Studies at AACR Meeting

Genta said this week that data from studies of its investigational antisense cancer drug Genasense will be presented next week at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research.

Genasense, being developed with French drug maker Aventis, is designed to block the production of Bcl-2, a protein made by cancer cells that appears to prevent chemotherapy-associated apoptosis.

The drug is being developed for multiple myeloma, lymphocytic leukemia, non-small cell lung cancer, small cell lung cancer, and prostate cancer.

Nature Publishes Details of New RNAi Libraries

Two papers published in this week’s issue of Nature detail two new RNAi libraries developed independently by researchers from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Netherlands Cancer Institute, respectively.

The libraries are to be made widely available to the research community at a nominal cost through Open Biosystems.

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.