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Stratagene, Pfizer, Genta

Stratagene Licenses miRNA Sequences for Dx Development
Stratagene said this week that it has acquired a license to more than 150 microRNA sequences from the Max Planck Society.
Under the terms of the deal, Stratagene will have the right to use the sequences for the development, manufacture, and sale of molecular diagnostic kits.
Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.
“We are very excited to move into the microRNA area,” Joseph Sorge, chairman and CEO of Stratagene, said in a statement. “The potential of these sequences, when paired with our proprietary FullVelocity technology, should allow us to develop important detection tests for the molecular diagnostics marketplace.”

Pfizer Begins Phase I Trial of RNAi-Based AMD Drug
SR Pharma said this week that Pfizer has begun phase I testing of an siRNA-based treatment for age-related macular degeneration that was developed by SR Pharma subsidiary Atugen.
The drug, called RTP-801i, silences RTP-801, which plays a role in angiogenesis, vascular permeability, and retinal neuron death. It was developed by Atugen and licensed to Quark Biotech, which partnered the drug with Pfizer last year (see RNAi News, 9/28/2006).
Atugen stands to receive up to $95 million in milestones from the drug’s development. SR Pharma said the initiation of phase I testing triggered a $1.5 million milestone payment.

Genta to Appeal FDA Rejection of Antisense Cancer Drug
Genta said this week that it will appeal the US Food and Drug Administration’s decision to issue a non-approvable notice for the company’s antisense cancer drug Genasense.
In December, the company received a non-approvable notice for Genasense as a treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia in combination with chemotherapy. Previously, an FDA advisory panel had rejected the drug as a treatment for advanced melanoma, a development that led to the end of the company’s collaboration with Sanofi-Aventis (see RNAi News, 11/12/2004).
In light of the clinical setbacks, Genta has restructured itself and recently laid off 35 percent of its workforce (see RNAi News, 12/21/2006).
Genasense inhibits production of Bcl-2, a protein made by cancer cells that is thought to block chemotherapy-induced apoptosis, according to Genta. The company last week noted that it is still trying to have the drug cleared for use in Europe for melanoma.

The Scan

Fertility Fraud Found

Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.