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Bio-Rad Expands RNAi Play With IDT Pact

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Bio-Rad Laboratories has made a bid to expand its role in the RNAi field through a collaboration with Integrated DNA Technologies and is hoping to carve out a niche in a fast-growing market that is crowded by several rivals.

The arrangement does not mark Bio-Rad’s first step into the RNAi arena, as the company already sells lipid transfection agents for siRNAs. However, it does signal Bio-Rad’s intent to be a major competitor in the RNAi field, in which it will compete with several other firms including Invitrogen, Qiagen, Sigma-Aldrich, Applied Biosystems, and Fisher Scientific. However, Bio-Rad is collaborating on a different RNAi technology than that covered by patents licensed by MIT to the others for research purposes.

“Certainly, we’ve been interested in entering this sector,” says Brad Crutchfield, vice president and group manager of life science for Bio-Rad. The IDT partnership is “consistent with us supporting the entire customer workflow of gene expression analysis,” he said.

Under the agreement, Bio-Rad will pair its transfection and analytical instruments with IDT’s siRNA design and synthesis expertise and deliver to customers validated Dicer-substrate 27-mer small interfering RNA duplexes. Bio-Rad says that it also would experimentally validate IDT’s siRNA duplexes in live cells.

The partners also intend to develop a series of control kits for use with IDT’s Trifecta Dicer-substrate RNAi kits and Bio-Rad’s validated siRNA duplexes.

“An important step in the customer workflow is getting these siRNAs into the cell, and we have a product to do that,” says Crutchfield. “This really does fit well together —and of course the natural step that goes with this is a gene expression assay using real-time PCR.”

The technology at the heart of the pact was developed by John Rossi at City of Hope’s Beckman Research Institute and was exclusively licensed a year ago to IDT for research and functional genomics applications.

 — Edward Winnick

PATENT WATCH

US Patent 7,078,196. RNA interference mediating small RNA molecules. Inventors: Thomas Tuschl, Sayda Mahgoub Elbashir, Winfried Lendeckel. Assignee: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften. Issued: July 18, 2006.

This patent refers to the demonstration that 19-23 nucleotide short RNA fragments are the sequence-specific mediators of RNAi. The patent-holders provide evidence that the direction of dsRNA processing by which the siRNAs are generated determines whether sense or antisense target RNA can be cleaved by the produced siRNA complex.

US patent application 20060160123. Method of minimizing off-target effects of siRNA molecules. Inventor: Steven Quay. Assignee: Nastech Pharmaceuticals. Filed: February 24, 2006.

The patent covers a method of minimizing siRNA off-target effects by preparing double-stranded RNA with a sense strand homologous to a target gene sequence along with a complementary antisense strand “and having at least one pyrimidine replaced by a 5’-methyl-pyrimidine, and contacting said dsRNA with a cell capable of expressing said target gene,” the patent’s abstract states.

SHORT READS

Alnylam has signed a deal with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center to discover novel RNAi-based therapeutics for hypercholesterolemia, with a focus on a gene known to be involved in low-density lipoprotein metabolism.

Inex Pharmaceuticals expects to complete the spinoff of Tekmira this month, but Protiva Pharmaceuticals — formerly a subsidiary of Inex — says that it will oppose the deal. Protiva and Inex have been embroiled in a legal dispute over ownership of the delivery technology licensed to Alnylam.

The Carnegie Institution of Washington and the University of Massachusetts Medical School say that Benitec has withdrawn its opposition to the institutions’ patent application related to the discovery of RNAi. The application is the Australian version of the Fire-Mello patent, which is widely available for non-exclusive licensing from Carnegie.

RNAx has formed a co-exclusive, multi-year strategic alliance with German distribution firm VWR for sales representation for RNAx’s automated RNAi validation services. According to RNAx, its siRNA and shRNA validation services will now be available throughout Europe via local VWR sales reps.

Agilent Technologies will manufacture the active siRNA component for targeted siRNA anti-cancer therapeutic under development by Calando.

DATAPOINT

15

Total number of members in Dharmacon’s Genome-Wide RNAi Global Initiative, now that Harvard Medical School, Stanford Medical School, and the VU University Medical Center in the Netherlands have joined.

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