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Sirna, GSK, Alnylam, NuGen, Qiagen, Invitrogen, Fisher


Sirna to Supply GSK with RNAi-based Therapeutics for Respiratory Disease

Sirna Therapeutics said this week that it will provide GlaxoSmithKline with siRNA therapeutics against asthma, respiratory syncytial virus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and allergic rhinitis as part of its ongoing collaboration with the pharmaceutical company.

Sirna will provide GSK with optimized siRNAs against targets for these diseases and GSK is responsible for further preclinical and clinical development of compounds that emerge from the collaboration.

Sirna did not disclose financial details of the agreement.

Alnylam RSV Drug Safe, Well-Tolerated in Phase I Studies

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals said this week that data from two phase I studies indicate that the company's respiratory syncytial virus therapy ALN-RSV01 is safe and well-tolerated when administered intranasally.

"Data from these trials provide us with a significant clinical experience for ALN-RSV01 with 101 subjects enrolled in the two trials combined," John Maraganore, president and CEO of Alnylam, said in a statement.

Both phase I trials were double-blind, placebo-controlled, and randomized, Alnylam said. A total of 101 subjects were enrolled in the trials and 65 were exposed to ALN-RSV01. Subjects received either single or multiple daily doses of ALN-RSV01 or saline placebo in a nasal spray.

The trial data show that ALN-RSV01 was "safe when administered intranasally in relevant doses to human volunteers, and comparable to placebo with respect to any reported adverse events," the company said. "All reported adverse events for both ALN-RSV01 and placebo subjects were mild, with no reported serious adverse events. Further, there was no evidence of laboratory or electrocardiographic abnormalities in subjects exposed to the drug. Finally, as expected, there was no significant systemic exposure of ALN-RSV01 when administered intranasally."

Sirna Q1 Losses Flat Amid Steady Revenues, Expenses

Sirna Therapeutics reported this week net losses for the first quarter 2006 essentially flat with the year-ago period as revenues and operating costs held steady.

The company's net loss for the first quarter was $8 million, or $0.13 per share, versus a year-ago loss of $8 million, or $0.19 per share. Revenues in the first quarter were $400,000, down slightly from $500,000 in the same quarter a year earlier.

Operating costs for the first quarter edged up to $9 million from $8.7 million in the first quarter a year before. Research and development spending fell slightly to $5.6 million from $6.1 million.

As of March 31, Sirna had cash and marketable securities totaling $41.6 million.

NuGen, Qiagen Ink Collaboration for RNA Amplification, Analysis

NuGen Technologies and Qiagen have signed a co-marketing alliance to create a series of joint applications for RNA amplification and analysis.

The agreement, announced this week, is aimed at providing researchers with the means to isolate, amplify, fragment, and label RNA for research and molecular diagnostic ends.

Details of the deal were not disclosed.

Invitrogen to Spend $23.3M to Expand Scottish Facility; Will Become New Euro HQ

Invitrogen will spend £12.7 million ($23.3 million) to consolidate and expand its operations in Scotland, the Scottish Enterprise, the nation's main economic-development agency, said this week.

Among the expansion is a plan to create a new global corporate research center in Inchinnan in the outskirts of Glasgow, which will also become Invitrogen's new European headquarters.

The move, which will be supported with a £4.3-million investment from Scotland's Deputy First Minister Nicol Stephen, will potentially create 45 new jobs and safeguard 555 existing Invitrogen positions in Scotland, the Scottish Enterprise said. Asked whether the jobs had been in jeopardy, a Scottish Enterprise spokesperson said Invitrogen could have expended anyplace in Europe, but since it chose Scotland those positions will remain "safeguarded."

Terms of the expansion call for Invitrogen to centralize its current manufacturing and product development sites across Scotland into the Inchinnan Business Park.

The base, which will be moved into a 90,000-square-foot facility, will become the firm's European headquarters, and will have additional resources for R&D, sales, finance, legal, and customer services functions.

The move will "enable the company to meet increased business demand in a more cost effective way and has the potential for future expansion," Bernd Brust, vice president and general manager of Invitrogen Europe, said in a statement.

An Invitrogen spokesperson said construction on the new facility will begin this summer, and it is slated to open in the fall of 2007. Invitrogen will finish transferring staff and operations at that time, the spokesperson added.

Invitrogen Posts 2-Percent Organic Revenue Growth in Q1 as Profit Stumbles; BioProduction Sales Slide

Invitrogen last week reported that first-quarter revenue grew 2 percent organically as R&D spending surged 37 percent and profits slumped dramatically.

Total receipts for the three months ended March 31 increased 11.5 percent to $309 million from $277 million in the year-ago period. However, organic growth was 2 percent as recent acquisitions positively impacted total growth by 13 percent and currency effects hurt it by 3 percent, the company said.

Invitrogen said its BioDiscovery unit grew 7 percent organically year over year, though revenue from the BioProduction unit declined 5 percent organically.

"While we're disappointed with our revenue performance in US Bioproduction and Japan, we are confident that specific actions are in place to impact the growth trajectory for these areas," Greg Lucier, chairman and CEO, said inn a statement. He also said the company is "pleased" with the results in Europe, the US research, and emerging markets.

First-quarter R&D spending surged to $28.9 million from $21.2 million in the year-ago period.

Profit for the period slumped to $19.2 million, or $.35 per basic share, from $47 million, or $.82 per share, year over year. Invitrogen said the results were in part due to $0.21 per share in Q1 2005 income related to currency gains associated with its acquisition of Dynal and stock sale gains that did not occur in Q1 2006. Similarly, Q1 2006 earnings included $0.23 per share of higher costs associated with acquisition-related amortization and costs, business integration, and other factors.

Invitrogen said it had around $715 million in cash and investments as of March 31.

Fisher Logs 8.3-Percent Increase in Organic Q1 Revenues as Profit Grows 40 Percent

Fisher Scientific this week said that first-quarter sales increased 7.6 percent to $1.41 billion from $1.31 billion one year ago. Excluding the impact of foreign currency exchange, Fisher's Q1 revenues would have totaled $1.43 billion, a 9.6-percent increase, with organic growth accounting for 8.3 percent.

First-quarter sales for Fisher's scientific products and services spiked 9.8 percent to $1.08 billion from $984 million one year ago. Excluding the impact of foreign currency exchange, revenues for this division would have increased 11.4 percent, with 7.1-percent organic growth.

Fisher's healthcare products and services group logged $354 million, up 5 percent from $337 million year over year. Excluding foreign currency impact, sales growth for this division was 5.5 percent, with 5 percent in organic growth.

Fisher's profit for the first quarter increased 40 percent to $106.2 million, or $.85 per basic share, from $76 million, or $.63 per basic share, year over year.

In March, Fisher said it would jettison its lab workstations business, and as such, the results of this business were presented as discontinued operations and excluded from reported sales and income figures.

Fisher does not break out R&D spending. As of March 31, the company had approximately $434 million in cash and cash equivalents on hand.

The company also said this week that it has completed its acquisition of Clintrak Pharmaceutical Service, originally announced in mid-April, for $125 million in cash.

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.