Thermo, Genentech in siRNA pact

Companies to develop novel siRNA therapeutic technologies for indications of interest to Genentech

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WALTHAM, Mass.—Early November saw Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. enter a collaboration with Genentech Inc. to develop novel small-interfering RNA (siRNA) therapeutic technologies for indications of interest to Genentech. Under the collaboration agreement, Thermo Fisher will provide Genentech with siRNA design, stabilization, delivery and related RNAi technologies from its RNAi Discovery and Therapeutic Services laboratory in Lafayette, Colo.

The terms also allow for Genentech to use these technologies in the development of potential siRNA-based drugs. Such drugs would work by reducing, or silencing, the expression of specific genes implicated in disease. The research could extend drug discovery efforts to disease targets where traditional discovery technologies have not been successful.

This is definitely a deal that goes above and beyond the typical "contract win" in which Thermo Fisher simply provides tools to a customer, notes Vaughn Harring, director of public relations for Thermo Fisher. It is, in fact, part of Thermo's ongoing effort to be a leading player in the field of RNAi discovery and development, and it follows two similar deals that Thermo is involved in with Abbott and Alcon Inc.

"We believe the collaboration between Genentech and Thermo Fisher Scientific represents the joining of two leading-edge innovators aimed at advancing the development of siRNA-based drug technologies," says Ian Jardine, vice president of global R&D for Thermo Fisher. "By combining Genentech's expertise in the development of biological therapeutics with Thermo Fisher's capabilities in RNAi and RNA chemistry, we hope to greatly advance this promising therapeutic class. Our work with Genentech will focus on developments that will enable in vivo target validation and potentially human therapeutic applications of RNAi technology."

The RNAi Discovery and Therapeutic Services lab working with Genentech got its debut in summer 2007 and marked the beginning of Thermo moving from being an RNAi tools provider to becoming an RNAi tools and services provider. The laboratory features an integrated platform of Thermo Scientific technologies, including Dharmacon siRNA and miRNA libraries, BioImage and Cellomics high-content screening reagents and image analysis instrumentation, as well as robotics and software for laboratory automation. DDN

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