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Sirna Therapeutics and Archemix, Dharmacon and Genospectra, and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

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Sirna to Manufacture Aptamers for Archemix, Posts Q2 Financials

Sirna Therapeutics said this week that it has signed an exclusive, four-year deal to manufacture all of Archemix’s aptamers used through phase IIa clinical development. Sirna has additionally granted a worldwide, non-exclusive, perpetual license to its aptamer manufacture and commercialization intellectual property to Archemix.

The arrangement, said Sirna, follows an October 2003 deal under which Sirna manufactured Archemix’s anti-thrombin aptamer, ARC183, for development up through phase IIa testing.

“Sirna’s mission is to develop nucleic acid therapeutics based on RNA interference,” Sirna senior vice president and COO Nassim Usman said in a statement. “Through our partnership and licensing agreement with Archemix … Sirna will generate revenues as Archemix develops and commercializes its aptamer products.”

Also this week, Sirna reported a drop in second-quarter revenues to $454,000 from roughly $3 million in the same period last year. This decrease in part reflects a $2.7 million payment last year received by Sirna upon the completion of a manufacturing contract with Geron.

Sirna’s research and development spending rose in the quarter, up to $5.6 million from $4.3 million in the second quarter 2003, as Sirna ramped up its R&D activities and prepared to move its age-related macular degeneration drug Sirna-027 into the clinic.

Total expenses in the second quarter were $6.8 million, versus $10.8 million in the same period a year earlier.

As of June 30, Sirna had cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities totaling about $41.6 million.


Dharmacon, Genospectra Ink RNA Assay Deal

Dharmacon and Genospectra said last week that they have signed an agreement to collaborate on the commercialization of a genome-wide line of assays specifically designed to measure RNA changes from cell lysates, fresh tissue, and archived tissue samples.

Under the arrangement, Genospectra will design a genome-wide line of assays, based on its QuantiGene human RNA profiling technology, that correspond to Dharmacon’s siGenome siRNA reagents targeting human genes.

According to the companies, Dharmacon will promote Genospectra’s branched DNA gene expression profiling technology, and sell QuantiGene assays and QuantiGene probe sets, on its website. Additionally, both companies have agreed to combine their sales and marketing efforts.

Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“The QuantiGene technology is ideal for RNAi validation … to distinguish even small differences in mRNA levels,” Frank Witney, CEO of Genospectra, said in a statement. “QuantiGene provides a rapid, robust way to measure RNA levels without the need for RNA purification … and now this new relationship with Dharmacon will allow us to combine two very powerful tools to accelerate target validation and gene function studies.”


Alnylam Management to Present at Banc of America Conference

The management of newly public Alnylam Pharmaceuticals is scheduled to present a company overview at the upcoming Banc of America Securities “New Products, New Paradigms in Health Care” conference.

The event is scheduled for Thursday, July 29 at the Southampton Inn in Southampton, New York. Alnylam’s presentation is slated for 8:45 am EST.

A webcast of the presentation can be heard on Anylam’s website at http://www.alnylam.com.

The Scan

Study Follows Consequences of Early Confirmatory Trials for Accelerated Approval Indications

Time to traditional approval or withdrawal was shorter when confirmatory trials started prior to accelerated approval, though overall regulatory outcomes remained similar, a JAMA study finds.

Sequencing Study Leads to Vaccine Target in Bacteria Behind Neonatal Meningitis

Researchers eBioMedicine track down potential vaccine targets with transposon sequencing on mutant bacteria causing neonatal meningitis in mouse models of the disease.

Multiple Myeloma Progression Influenced by Immune Microenvironment Expression

Researchers in NPJ Genomic Medicine compare RNA sequencing profiles of 102,207 individual cells in bone marrow samples from 18 individuals with rapid or non-progressing multiple myeloma.

Self-Reported Hearing Loss in Older Adults Begins Very Early in Life, Study Says

A JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery study says polygenic risk scores associated with hearing loss in older adults is also associated with hearing decline in younger groups.