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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

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.