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University of Montreal, Sigma-Aldrich, Isis Pharmaceuticals, Invitrogen, Alnylam, GeneDesign

U of Montreal To Use Sigma-Aldrich shRNA Library for RNAi Screening
Sigma-Aldrich said this week that it has signed an agreement to provide its RNAi technologies to the University of Montreal’s Institute of Research in Immunology and Cancer.
Under the agreement, the institute's high-throughput screening facility will have access to Sigma-Aldrich’s Mission RNAi IP portfolio and its shRNA library collection for human and mouse genomes.
Funding for the research was provided by Genome Quebec and by Sigma-Aldrich.
The company said it plans to use feedback from the studies to “further its understanding of specific target function” and to continue to develop its high-throughput drug research tools.

Isis Awarded $1.5M NIH Grant to Design Single-Stranded RNAi Drugs
Isis Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has received a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to design single-stranded antisense drugs capable of triggering RNA interference.
“Based on our extensive work with single-stranded antisense drugs that work through an RNase H mechanism and the feasibility studies we have completed with single-stranded antisense drugs that harness the RNAi pathway, we are optimistic that the two drug families will share certain characteristics, including bioavailability and tissue distribution," Frank Bennett, senior vice president of research at Isis, said in a statement.
Isis said that its multi-year grant will fund research on improving the stability and tissue distribution of RNAi drugs, as well as optimizing the chemical properties of single-stranded oligonucleotides that trigger the RNAi pathway and the discovery of drugs.

Invitrogen Licenses miRNA Sequences from Natural Selection
Invitrogen said this week that it has licensed a set of computationally predicted human and mouse microRNA sequences from Natural Selection, a developer of pattern recognition tools (see RNAi News, 10/21/2005).
Invitrogen said that the sequences will be integrated into its miRNA arrays and will be submitted to the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute’s miRNA database. A larger set of miRNA sequences, derived using Natural Selection’s proprietary algorithms, will be made publicly available over the next few years.
Additional terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

Alnylam Licenses European IP to Japanese Reagent Company
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has non-exclusively licensed its Kreutzer-Limmer family of European intellectual property to GeneDesign, a Japanese reagent firm, for commercializing research products and services.
Financial terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.
"Alnylam continues to leverage its leading intellectual property estate through relationships worldwide,” Jason Rhodes, vice president of business development at Alnylam, said in a statement. “With approximately 15 licenses granted to research product suppliers, including now three in Asian markets, we believe that the vast majority of industrial sales of siRNAs for research purposes globally are currently being made under access to Alnylam's intellectual property."

Isis Receives $5M Milestone Under Ortho-McNeil Collaboration
Isis Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has received a $5 million milestone payment from Ortho-McNeil, a Johnson & Johnson company, for achieving the first development milestone in the companies’ collaboration.
According to Isis, the payment was triggered by the initiation of a phase I study of Isis 325568, an antisense-based drug candidate for type II diabetes. Ortho-McNeil licensed the drug, as well as another antisense-based candidate, from Isis last month.

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.