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Strands: Jan 29, 2009

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Mirna, MD Anderson Cancer Center to Research miRNAs in Prostate Cancer

Mirna Therapeutics, a subsidiary of Asuragen developing microRNA-targeting drugs, said this week that it has formed a collaboration with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to investigate the roles of miRNAs in prostate cancer.

Leading the effort are Dean Tang, an associate professor at the university, and David Brown, director of discovery at Mirna, Asuragen said.

Specific terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.


FDA Gives OK to Alnylam Liver Cancer Drug IND

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals announced this week that its investigational new drug application for its liver cancer treatment ALN-VSP has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, clearing the way for a phase I study of the drug.

The drug comprises two siRNAs, one targeting vascular endothelial growth factor, which is associated with angiogenesis, and the other targeting kinesin spindle protein, which has been linked to cell proliferation in various cancers. It is also formulated in a lipid nanoparticle developed by Alnylam partner Tekmira Pharmaceuticals.

According to Alnylam, its proposed phase I study of ALN-VSP is a multi-center, open-label, dose-escalation trial to evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of intravenous doses of the drug in patients with advanced solid tumors with liver involvement.

Additional study design details will be provided upon initiation of the clinical study, the company said.

In a separate announcement, Tekmira said that it stands to be paid an undisclosed milestone from Alnylam after the first patient is dosed in the phase I study, which is slated to begin in the first half of this year.

The Scan

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.

Team Presents Cattle Genotype-Tissue Expression Atlas

Using RNA sequences representing thousands of cattle samples, researchers looked at relationships between cattle genotype and tissue expression in Nature Genetics.

Researchers Map Recombination in Khoe-San Population

With whole-genome sequences for dozens of individuals from the Nama population, researchers saw in Genome Biology fine-scale recombination patterns that clustered outside of other populations.

Myotonic Dystrophy Repeat Detected in Family Genome Sequencing Analysis

While sequencing individuals from a multi-generation family, researchers identified a myotonic dystrophy type 2-related short tandem repeat in the European Journal of Human Genetics.