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Sirna Therapeutics, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Novartis Pharmaceuticals, and OncoGenex Technologies

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Sirna to Present Phase I AMD Data at Ophthalmology Meeting

Sirna Therapeutics said this week that it is scheduled to present data from its phase I study of the RNAi-based age-related macular degeneration drug Sirna-027 at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology in Chicago on Oct. 18.

According to the company, the presentation will be made by Edward Quinlan, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University's Wilmer Eye Institute and one of the investigators participating in the phase I trial. He will discuss a paper entitled "A Phase 1, Open-Label, Dose Escalation Trial of Intravitreal Injection of Small Interfering RNA Molecule in Subjects with Neovascular AMD," Sirna said.


Alnylam, Novartis Close RNAi Alliance

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has closed its previously announced alliance with Novartis Pharmaceuticals (see RNAi News, 9/9/2005).

In a single closing, Novartis made a payment of approximately $58.5 million to Alnylam for the purchase of approximately 5.3 million shares of newly issued Alnylam common stock at a price of $11.11 per share. Novartis now holds 19.9 percent of Alnylam's outstanding common stock, Alnylam said.

Novartis is obligated to make an additional payment totaling $10 million to Alnylam within ten business days following the closing date, Oct. 12, under the companies' collaboration, Alnylam added.


OncoGenex Enrolls First Patient in Third Phase II Trial of Antisense Cancer Drug

OncoGenex Technologies said this week that the first patient has been dosed in a phase II trial of OGX-011, the company's antisense-based treatment for prostate cancer.

This is the third of four planned phase II trials for the drug.

According to the company, the open-label, non-blinded trial will enroll a total of 80 patients with hormone refractory prostate cancer. Patients in the OGX-011 arm of the study will receive OGX-011 once per week and will also receive daily prednisone and docetaxel once every three weeks. Patients in the standard arm of the study will receive daily prednisone and docetaxel once every three weeks. The study will evaluate the effect of OGX-011 and docetaxel on PSA, duration of response, serum clusterin levels and overall survival, OncoGenex said.

The drug, which is designed to inhibit the production of clusterin, a cell-survival protein associated with resistance to standard cancer therapies, is being developed in collaboration with Isis Pharmaceuticals.

The Scan

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.

EHR Quality Improvement Study Detects Demographic-Related Deficiencies in Cancer Family History Data

In a retrospective analysis in JAMA Network Open, researchers find that sex, ethnicity, language, and other features coincide with the quality of cancer family history information in a patient's record.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Linked to Gut Microbiome Community Structure Gradient in Meta-Analysis

Bringing together data from prior studies, researchers in Genome Biology track down microbial taxa and a population structure gradient with ties to ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.

Ancient Greek Army Ancestry Highlights Mercenary Role in Historical Migrations

By profiling genomic patterns in 5th century samples from in and around Himera, researchers saw diverse ancestry in Greek army representatives in the region, as they report in PNAS.