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Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb, MDRNA, Rosetta Genomics, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Benitec

Tekmira, BMS Ink siRNA-Delivery Research Deal
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals this week announced that it has formed a collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb to research the delivery of siRNAs to specific organs and tissues outside the liver.
According to Tekmira, the companies had previously been using variations of Protiva Biotherapeutics’ stable nucleic acid-lipid particle, or SNALP, technology to validate certain undisclosed gene targets using siRNAs. Earlier this year, Tekmira merged with Protiva (see RNAi News, 4/3/2008).
"Our relationship with Bristol-Myers Squibb is consistent with our strategy to work with global pharmaceutical leaders to expand the therapeutic potential of our leading RNAi delivery technology,” Mark Murray, president and CEO of Tekmira, said in a statement. “At the same time, this work complements our internal product development initiatives as we advance our own RNAi therapeutics to treat serious human diseases."
Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed.

MDRNA Reports Positive Animal Data for Dicer-Substrate Flu Drug
MDRNA this week announced the presentation of animal-model data showing that its lead Dicer-substrate-based treatment for influenza is highly active against multiple strains of the virus including the seasonal H3N2 and highly pathogenic H5N1 strains.
The data were presented at XIV International Congress of Virology in Istanbul, Turkey, the company said.
Additionally, the data showed that the RNAi molecule elicited high inhibition activity against Tamiflu-resistant strains of influenza virus, and that treatment with the drug before and after infection resulted in a 99 percent reduction in viral titers.
Formulated Dicer-substrates dosed intranasally, meanwhile, showed significant reduction in viral replication, which led to lower viral titers, decreased clinical signs, and increased survival in infected mice and ferret models of the flu, MDRNA added.
Last week, MDRNA announced that it would not advance its flu program unless it could find a partner (see RNAi News, 8/7/2008).

Rosetta Begins Clinical Validation Study of CUP Dx with MD Anderson Cancer Center
Rosetta Genomics announced this week that it has initiated a clinical validation study of its microRNA-based test for identifying the primary site of cancer of unknown primary origin in collaboration with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The study, Rosetta said, will include one hundred patients who are diagnosed with CUP at the cancer center. Assuming positive results from the effort, Rosetta expects the CUP test to be submitted for US regulatory approval in the second half of this year.

Benitec Issued New Zealand Patent for Core Expressed RNAi Technology
Benitec said last week that one of its key patents for producing dsRNA constructs for therapeutic applications has been issued in New Zealand.
“We have already licensed this patent family for use in preclinical and clinical development of a hepatitis C therapeutic construct and will look to further licensing opportunities” Benitec CEO Sue MacLeman said in a statement.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.