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Strands: Jan 15, 2009

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Silence Raises £2.65M in Stock Placement

Silence Therapeutics said last week that it has sold 15 million ordinary shares to a group of institutional investors, grossing £2.65 million ($3.9 million) based on the 18p per share price.

According to Silence, participants in the transaction included Gartmore, Fidelity, Insight, and another undisclosed European fund.

Silence Chairman and CEO Iain Ross said in a statement that the funds would be used to "finance and broaden the company’s preclinical and RNAi development programs, and will allow Silence Therapeutics to execute its business plan into 2010."


Sigma-Aldrich Pays Sangamo $1M ZFN Milestone

Sangamo BioSciences said this week it has received a $1 million milestone part of a deal it signed in 2007 to develop zinc finger nuclease reagents for sale by Sigma-Aldrich to the research market.

According to Sangamo, ZFNs can be designed to target any gene in any organism and can be used to rapidly make precise changes to a cell's characteristics.

David Smoller, president of Sigma-Aldrich's Research Biotech business, said in a statement that the reagent platform will provide researchers with "the ability to precisely manipulate the genome of living cells, resulting in cell lines or whole organisms with defined gene deletions, insertions, or corrections."


CombiMatrix to Get $1.5M from Sale of Securities

CombiMatrix said last week that all of its $1.5 million worth of auction rate securities were recently liquidated.

Last year, the company had said that those securities had become illiquid due to the global financial credit crisis. CombiMatrix is one of many firms that faced similar losses as the auction rate security market froze up. However, several investment banks that had participated in the distribution of auction rate securities agreed last year to buy back billions of dollars worth of the debt instruments.

Amit Kumar, president and CEO of CombiMatrix, said in a statement that the firm would use the $1.5 million to expand its diagnostics business.

The Scan

Study Links Evolution of Longevity, Social Organization in Mammals

With the help of comparative phylogenetics and transcriptomics, researchers in Nature Communications see ties between lifespan and social organization in mammals.

Tumor Microenvironment Immune Score Provides Immunotherapy Response, Prognostic Insights

Using multiple in situ analyses and RNA sequence data, researchers in eBioMedicine have developed a score associated with immunotherapy response or survival.

CRISPR-Based Method for Finding Cancer-Associated Exosomal MicroRNAs in Blood

A team from China presents in ACS Sensors a liposome-mediated membrane fusion strategy for detecting miRNAs carried in exosomes in the blood with a CRISPR-mediated reporter system.

Drug Response Variants May Be Distinct in Somatic, Germline Samples

Based on variants from across 21 drug response genes, researchers in The Pharmacogenomics Journal suspect that tumor-only DNA sequences may miss drug response clues found in the germline.