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Sirna s Q3, Dharmacon and Akceli, Affymetrix and Qiagen, Cyntellect and Lilly, and Isis SARS Project

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Sirna Posts Lower Q3 Revenues as Expenses Rise on UMASS Deal

Sirna Therapeutics reported this week that third-quarter revenues fell to $283,000 from $1.3 million, while net losses rose more than 37 percent.

The company’s net loss in the quarter was $10.9 million, up from a year-ago loss of $6.8 million.

Meanwhile expenses jumped to $11.2 million from $6.7 million, largely due to the costs associated with the company’s in-licensing of the Tuschl-1 intellectual property from the University of Massachusetts. Excluding this licensing deal, Sirna said that its expenses in the quarter were $4.3 million.

As of Sept. 30, Sirna had cash, cash equivalents, and securities available for sale totaling $41.3 million.


Dharmacon, Akceli Collaborate on High-Throughput Gene Silencing

Dharmacon and Akceli said this week that they have agreed to explore the combination of their respective technologies to validate the efficacy of whole-well siRNA reverse transfection and its use for transfection optimization.

Under the deal, Dharmacon will supply Akceli with siRNA reagents. Akceli will use the reagents to carry out reverse transfection experiments, wherein cells are added to a microwell surface that has been coated with siRNA.

“Combining Dharmacon’s siRNA reagents with Akceli’s reverse transfection technology should enable us to provide a high throughput format for the analysis of siRNA-mediated gene silencing,” Akceli president and co-founder David Chao said in a statement. Data resulting from the partnership will also be used by Akceli to further advance its reverse transfection methodologies and by Dharmacon to further refine the potency and specificity of its siRNAs, the companies added.

The companies also said that Dharmacon’s siRNAs will be used to validate Akceli’s cancer-related siRNA sequences and cell-based assays.

Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.


Affymetrix, Qiagen Form siRNA Research Alliance

Qiagen has signed an agreement to use Affymetrix’s GeneChip microarray technology to optimize its siRNA synthesis and transfection technologies, the companies said this week.

The companies said that the alliance is expected to result in the development of optimized procedures that can be standardized to analyze siRNA gene silencing effects on a genome-wide basis. Protocols and data describing the benefits of combining Affymetrix’s and Qiagen’s technologies, the companies added, will be detailed in technical notes to researchers.

Additional terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.


Cyntellect to Conduct Tests of Transfection Technology for Lilly

Cyntellect said this week that it has signed a deal to conduct RNAi transfection experiments using its LEAP, or laser-enabling analysis and processing, technology for Eli Lilly.

The LEAP system involves using lasers to temporarily permeabilize cells, allowing for transfection of molecules such as siRNAs. Data from the experiments conducted by Cyntellect will be provided to Lilly, which will decide whether to purchase a system for use in its own gene function analysis projects.

Cyntellect has struck a number of similar deals with other drugmakers and research institutions already, the company’s COO Fred Koller told RNAi News in a recent interview, and a researcher from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has agreed to purchase a system. (See RNAi News, 10/17/2003.) The company hopes to place a number of the systems over the next several months and apply data from their use toward the development of a commercial version of the LEAP platform.


Isis to Establish Singapore-Based SARS Research Project

Isis said last week that it is broadening its programs developing antisense and microRNA-based drugs against the SARS coronavirus after securing sponsorship from the Singapore Economic Development Board’s Biomedical Sciences group.

The company said that it will establish a Singapore-based research program to discover and identify the function of miRNAs. The project will also design and optimize antisense inhibitors and small molecule drugs to therapeutically attractive miRNA targets, the company added.

“Since microRNA molecules are short strands of RNA, by their very nature they are ideal targets for antisense drugs,” Frank Bennett, vice president of antisense research at Isis, said in a statement.