ST. LOUIS—Sigma-Aldrich announced late last month that it signed a licensing deal with Seattle-based Rosetta Inpharmatics, whereby Sigma would gain exclusive rights to use Rosetta's new, patent-pending algorithms for the design siRNA tools for the research community.
The moves comes as Sigma-Aldrich continues its push into the RNAi products market, activity that has included collaboration with The RNAi Consortium (TRC), the acquisition of Proligo--which now allows the company to synthesize RNA--as well as agreements with leaders in the field such as Benitec, Alnylam and Oxford BioMedica.
Under the terms of the agreement, Sigma-Aldrich will use Rosetta's newest design algorithms for siRNA to create human and model organism siRNA whole genome libraries. Plans also call for Sigma-Aldrich to create specific gene family targeted panels, as well as single-target pre-designed siRNAs through an enhanced interface via Sigma-Aldrich's Web site.
"RNAi has proven to be a very powerful tool for researchers looking at identifying drug targets," says Christina Bailey, Sigma-Aldrich's global strategic market manager for functional genomics. "Specifically what we've been hearing over the last year is related to the need to look at the expression of low abundant messages and to be able to minimize off-target affects. We feel confident the Rosetta design will address both of these needs."
For Sigma, the choice to partner with Rosetta Inpharmatics, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck & Co., was driven by Rosetta's understanding via this relationship of discovery researchers' needs.
"They are their own customers and use the design," says Bailey. "They are able to take the feedback from its world-class research organization and use it for continuous improvement of the design of their product. In addition to being the developers of the algorithms, they are also using them."
For Rosetta, the license deal provides a method for the company to brings its latest and greatest offerings in terms of SiRNA design into the market quickly.
"[This] offers the opportunity for our most advanced siRNA technology to be leveraged in the marketplace to provide enhanced knock-down for low expressed genes in concert with reduced off-target effects," says Douglas Bassett, Jr., executive director of informatics at Rosetta, in a prepared statement announcing the deal.
Plans called for a staged product introduction for the siRNA panels, with the first panels available by late summer. First focus will be on the human genome followed by selected model organisms, Bailey says. Next logical products would focus on mouse and rat model organism panels, though Sigma will not limit the product range to these alone and will consider other model organisms as needed in the future.