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Strands: Feb 12, 2009


Alnylam, Collaborators Publish Animal Data on Ovarian Cancer-Targeted siRNAs

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals announced this week the publication of data showing that siRNAs targeting the claudin-3 protein suppressed ovarian cancer tumor growth and metastases in animal models.

According to the company, “claudin-3 is a tight junction protein that is highly over-expressed in approximately 90 percent of ovarian tumors. Previous in vitro studies have shown that the over-expression of claudin-3 promotes migration, invasion, and increased survival of ovarian cancer cells.”

The data, which were published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Alnylam researchers and collaborators at the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, showed that lipidoid-mediated delivery of siRNAs targeting claudin-3 in ovarian tumor tissue silenced the gene and triggered a “substantial reduction in tumor growth and metastases as compared to controls in three different mouse tumor models,” Alnylam added.

Opko to Present Data on New siRNAs at ARVO Meeting

Opko Health this week announced that it will present data on the characterization of its next-generation vascular endothelial growth factor-targeting siRNAs at the upcoming Association for Research and Vision in Ophthalmology meeting in May.

According to the company, the new siRNAs are designed to inhibit the angiogenic VEGF Factor A165 isoform but spare the anti-angiogenic VEGFA165b isoform.

“We believe that these new proprietary molecules have the potential to significantly improve clinical outcomes in patients with ocular neovascularization,” Opko Chairman and CEO Phillip Frost said in a statement.

Opko is currently developing a phase III siRNA drug for wet age-related macular degenerastion, bevasiranib, which is designed to suppress VEGF.

Alnylam Awarded RNAi Patent in Australia

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals announced this week that the Australian patent office has granted the company a new patent covering, among other things, methods and compositions of RNAi therapeutics, including a method of reducing expression of a coding sequence in a target mammalian cell with a double-stranded RNA of between 15 and 25 nucleotides in length.

The so-called Kay & McCaffrey patent, AU 2002326410, was exclusively licensed by Alnylam from Stanford University. Additional patents in the family are pending in the US, Europe, and Japan, the company said.

The Scan

Latent HIV Found in White Blood Cells of Individuals on Long-Term Treatments

Researchers in Nature Microbiology find HIV genetic material in monocyte white blood cells and in macrophages that differentiated from them in individuals on HIV-suppressive treatment.

Seagull Microbiome Altered by Microplastic Exposure

The overall diversity and the composition at gut microbiome sites appear to coincide with microplastic exposure and ingestion in two wild bird species, according to a new Nature Ecology and Evolution study.

Study Traces Bladder Cancer Risk Contributors in Organ Transplant Recipients

In eLife, genome and transcriptome sequencing reveal mutation signatures, recurrent somatic mutations, and risky virus sequences in bladder cancers occurring in transplant recipients.

Genes Linked to White-Tailed Jackrabbits' Winter Coat Color Change

Climate change, the researchers noted in Science, may lead to camouflage mismatch and increase predation of white-tailed jackrabbits.