WALTHAM, Mass.—Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.'s RNAi researchand production center in Lafayette, Colo., is now home to the new RNAiDiscovery and Therapeutic Services laboratory, which will offer advanced RNAiscreening and analysis services, as well as development of new therapeutictechnologies involving RNAi.
The new lab features an integrated platform of ThermoScientific technologies, including Dharmacon siRNA and miRNA libraries,BioImage and Cellomics high-content screening reagents and image analysisinstrumentation, as well as robotics and software for laboratory automation.
"By providing RNAi-based screening on a contract basis, wewill make it possible for any laboratory to realize the benefits of thisimportant advancement in drug discovery," says Marc N. Casper, executive vicepresident of Thermo Fisher Scientific. "The RNAi Discovery and TherapeuticServices laboratory provides clients with access to unmatched scientificexpertise and the ability to rapidly achieve meaningful results from thisinnovative workflow, while providing training and systems recommendations toclients establishing their own internal capabilities."
The lab is more than just an opportunity to profit from thegrowing RNAi market, according to Mike Deines, vice president of sales andmarketing for Dharmacon products and drug discovery for Thermo Fisher. It is acontinuation, he says, of an evolving commitment the company has made to thetechnology going back to 2003 when it made available a genome-wide siRNAlibrary for the human and mouse genomes.
"Once we did that, we realized immediately that we needed todo something to shorten the normal time experienced in the pharmaceuticalmarket between when innovative new technologies hit and when they are usedeffectively," Deines says. To help shorten that lag, Thermo spearheaded theformation of the RNAi Global Initiative, a consortium of not-for-profit institutesand leading academic institutions across the world to share knowledge and bestpractices.
This lab, he says, is the next step in that evolutionarychain of Thermo's goal to advance RNAi in the market, and will offer suchservices as target identification, target validation, drug optimization,biomarker discovery and RNAi therapeutic technology development—as well asfinding ways to rescue drugs that hit snags in the development process.
"We have anindustry-leading position in RNA- and RNAi-based technologies through ourDharmacon product line, now marketed under the Thermo Scientific brand," Caspernotes. "Our core expertise in RNAi biology and therapeutic technologydevelopment, high-throughput screening, RNA chemistry and drug discovery research,combined with our unique portfolio of bioreagents, instrument systems androbotics, enables us to perform highly advanced contract services in-house. Wecan also offer customers the option of transferring this integrated workflow totheir own facilities."
That latter capability, Deines says, will be of greatimportance to many companies.
"By producing a replica of our reagents, assays andautomation at client facilities, we can shorten by years the time it would taketo get a facility up and running on their own," Deines notes. "For mostclients, this would potentially be a benefit compared to investing years ofwork and large numbers of people to develop the technology and optimize it fromthe ground up. We can save them enormous amounts of money and time. Time ismoney, and in pharma, time is big money, so the impact of our lab could bedramatic."
The laboratory will also provide supplemental resources andexpertise for overburdened labs already using RNAi technology. Services rangefrom a single screen to multi-component projects, and include RNAi-basedhigh-throughput screening and hit validation, high-content screening, micro-RNAexpression profiling and analysis, as well as lab automation and integration.