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Strands: Feb 5, 2009

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Isis Begins Phase I Trial of Antisense Drug for Diabetes

Isis Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has begun a phase I study of an antisense-based drug for type II diabetes.

The drug, called ISIS-SGLT2Rx, is designed to inhibit the production of sodium dependent glucose co-transporter type 2, which the company said is the major transporter responsible for glucose re-absorption in the kidney.

“Decreasing SGLT2 levels promotes glucose excretion in the urine and reduces blood sugar levels,” the company noted.

“In several preclinical models, we have demonstrated greater than 80 percent reduction of SGLT2 levels in the kidney at low-weekly doses, which resulted in significant increases in urinary glucose excretion,” Sanjay Bhanot, Isis’ vice president of metabolic disease research and development, said in a statement. “These changes were accompanied by robust and sustained decreases in blood glucose levels in diabetic animals as well as amelioration of diabetic complications such as cataract formation. Furthermore, ISIS-SGLT2Rx did not reduce blood sugar levels below normal.”


Champions Inks Cancer Therapy-Development Deal with Gradalis

Champions Biotechnology said this week that it has formed a collaboration with Gradalis and the Mary Crowley Cancer Research Center to develop personalized vaccines for cancer patients.

According to Champions, the vaccines will be developed from a patient’s own tumor.

Under the terms of the arrangement, Gradalis will help Champions create an investigational new drug application package to begin phase I testing of the individualized vaccines. Additional terms were not disclosed.

As first reported by RNAi News, Gradalis has been working on an RNAi-based cancer treatment against cancer-relevant targets identified by screening individual patients’ tumors (see RNAi News, 6/12/2008).

It was not immediately clear whether Gradalis’ RNAi approach would be included in the Champions deal.


Mirna Inks miRNA Research Deal with UCSF

Mirna Therapeutics said this week that it has formed a collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco, to evaluate the ability of undisclosed microRNAs to reduce or eliminate tumors in mouse models of cancer.

The collaboration will include studies of cancer-related miRNAs that were discovered at both Mirna and UCSF, as well as small RNAs yet to be identified using mouse and cell models from UCSF, the company said.

Additional terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.


Cenix, Boehringer Ingelheim to Collaborate on Drug Target Discovery

Cenix BioScience said this week that it has signed a research agreement to help Boehringer Ingelheim discover novel therapeutic drug targets.

Under the arrangement, Cenix will combine its high-throughput RNAi screening capabilities with high-content phenotypic analyses in a genomic-scale screen using cultured human cells to generate insights into the cellular functions and loss-of-function phenotypes of analyzed genes, the companies said.

Additional terms were not disclosed.


RXi Secures $25M Committed Standby Equity Agreement

RXi Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has entered into a committed standby equity agreement with YA Global Investments that gives the RNAi drug shop the option to sell Yorkville Advisors newly issued RXi shares in increments of up to $500,000 over a two-year period for a total of up to $25 million.

“While we have no immediate intention to draw on this equity facility, we are pleased to have access to potential capital that could strengthen our financial position as we continue our partnering negotiations,” RXi President and CEO Tod Woolf said in a statement.

As part of the deal, RXi has issued 58,398 common shares valued at $250,000 to Yorkville Advisors as a one-time commitment fee, as well as a $25,000 legal and structuring fee.

The Scan

Panel Recommends Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine for Kids

CNN reports that the US Food and Drug Administration advisory panel has voted in favor of authorizing the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for children between 5 and 11 years old.

Sharing How to Make It

Merck had granted a royalty-free license for its COVID-19 treatment to the Medicines Patent Pool, according to the New York Times.

Bring it Back In

Bloomberg reports that a genetic analysis has tied a cluster of melioidosis cases in the US to a now-recalled aromatherapy spray.

Nucleic Acids Research Papers on SomaMutDB, VThunter, SCovid Databases

In Nucleic Acids Research this week: database of somatic mutations in normal tissue, viral receptor-related expression signatures, and more.