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Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, National Cancer Institute, MDRNA, Lentigen, Focus Diagnostics, Asuragen

Tekmira Collaborator Presents Data on SNALP-Delivered Liver Cancer Rx
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals this week said that one of its collaborators at the National Cancer Institute presented preclinical data showing that siRNAs delivered with the company’s stable nucleic acid lipid particle technology could reduce tumor burden in human hepatocellular carcinoma tumor-bearing mice.
According to the company, the RNAi treatment targeted the CSN5 gene and was delivered systemically. Inhibition of CSN5 increases apoptosis by restoring levels of tumor suppressor proteins p53 and p27, Tekmira said.
The company said it is continuing to work with the NCI on “identifying novel cancer genes and demonstrating anti-tumor activity by silencing these genes through RNA interference.”

MDRNA Awarded $350K to Continue Development of RNAi Flu Drug
MDRNA said last week that it has received $350,000 from the National Institutes of Health to continue development of an siRNA-based drug for the treatment and prevention of influenza.
The award, MDRNA said, is part of a five-year grant worth $1.9 million that it received from the NIH in 2006.
"The additional funding provided by the NIH will help to further increase our understanding of the mechanisms of viral resistance against RNAi-based therapeutics as a drug class,” Michael Templin, MDRNA’s vice president for toxicology and pharmacology, said in a statement. “We will also use these funds to confirm that MDR-03030, our lead Dicer-substrate siRNA candidate against human and avian influenza strains, is optimally designed to target the conserved region of the influenza viral genome and thus minimizes the virus's ability to mutate around the compound."
MDRNA, while it was still called Nastech Pharmaceutical, acquired its flu program from startup Galenea in early 2006 (see RNAi News, 2/23/2006). However, last month MDRNA’s CSO and Chairman Steven Quay said that the company would no longer continue to develop the program unless it could find a partner (see RNAi News, 8/7/2008).

Lentigen Relocates Operations to New Facility
Lentiviral vector technology-developer Lentigen said this week that it has relocated its corporate headquarters, research labs, and manufacturing operations to Gaithersburg, Md., from the University of Maryland Baltimore County TechCenter.
“We appreciated the opportunity afforded to grow our company at the TechCenter, but the move to our new facility is a significant step forward in our evolution as a biotech company," Lentigen CEO Tim Ravenscroft said in a statement.

Focus Diagnostics Licenses Asuragen RNA Technology
Quest Diagnostics subsidiary Focus Diagnostics has licensed non-exclusive, worldwide rights to Asuragen’s Armored RNA technology for use in molecular diagnostic products, the firms said this week.
The Armored RNA technology was jointly developed by Austin, Texas-based Asuragen and reference lab Cenetron Diagnostics for the packaging of RNA or DNA in bacteriophage coat proteins for protection and stabilization. According to the firms, the technology armors the RNA standard against the hazards of nucleases in patient samples.
Asuragen will develop and supply reagents for Focus in its QSR-compliant manufacturing facility. Other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.