Achillion wins fast track status; Vernalis strikes discovery deal with Genentech; U.S./China JV wins grant;

 @FierceBiotech: Countering skeptics, Alnylam claims pioneering first in RNAi cholesterol study. Article | Follow @FierceBiotech

 @JohnCFierce: Biogen Idec strikes $299M deal for Isis antisense drug. Story | Follow @JohnCFierce

 @RyanMFierce: Quintiles has formed a new digital unit, using websites to tap patients for trials. News | Follow @RyanMFierce

> Achillion says its mid-stage hep C drug, ACH-1625, has won fast track status at the FDA. Story

> Vernalis has forged a drug discovery collaboration with Genentech, using its fragment and structure-based drug discovery platform against an undisclosed target. Vernalis release

> Australia's Phylogica has inked a discovery pact with J&J's Janssen, putting the biotech's Phylomer peptide platform to use in finding new drug classes. Phylogica release

> The upstart Ascletis, a U.S./China joint venture biotech company, has won a $1.6 million grant from Hangzhou National Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone. Release

Pharma News

 @FiercePharma: The top 10 pharma layoffs of 2011. Report | Follow @FiercePharma

> Novartis idles plant, throwing off OTC drug supplies. News

> Which pharmas win the hedge-fund popularity contest? Story

Drug Delivery News

> India researchers pursue nanoparticle rabies treatment. Report

> New year brings new delay for SkyePharma's Flutiform asthma inhaler. Article

> ThromboGenics gears up marketing plans for eyeball injection drug. Story

> FDA issues new guidelines for transmucosal delivery of pain drug. News

> Veloxis, Athena ink deal for pill combining 2 heart disease drugs. Item

> Alnylam, Medtronic RNAi drug-device combo wows with preclinical data. Report

Biomarker News

> Biomarker could quickly diagnose heart attack. Story

> Breast cancer gene triggers mesothelioma response. Report

> When it comes to weight loss, watch the biomarkers and not the scale. Article

> CSF biomarkers could differentiate types of dementia. News

> Brain imaging could serve as Huntington's disease biomarker. Report

> Alzheimer's disease imaging signature predicts cognitive. Item

Medical Device News

> Corinthian raises $2M, sets sights on eye drug delivery device. Story

> Medtronic gets FDA OK for remote diabetes monitor. News

> Smith & Nephew to spin off biologics unit into JV. Article

> AirStrip scores regulatory win in EU. More

And Finally... Chinese officials sought to reassure the public after a bus driver died from bird flu, noting that the viral strain he died from could not spread from human to human. Story