Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Genta Poised to Enter RNAi Arena with $30 Million Deal to Acquire Salus Therapeutics


Genta said last week that it has signed a deal to acquire Salus Therapeutics, making it the latest in a string of biopharmaceutical companies, including such big players as Abbott and Genentech, to toss their hats into the RNAi ring.

“Genta, as it’s operated up until now, had two distinct programs: one in DNA-based medicines and the second in small molecules,” Genta CEO Raymond Warrell said during an Aug. 14 conference call. By picking up Salus, in exchange for $13 million in stock up front and as much as $17 million in cash or stock for the achievement of R&D milestones, Genta has now “expand[ed] our research efforts into therapeutic applications of RNA interference.”

But unlike most others in the RNAi space, Salt Lake City-based Salus uses technology involving single strands of antisense RNA that prompt RNAi in a cell. Salus said that these single-stranded RNAs appear more effective than dsRNA, and are currently being tested in animal models against the gene MMP-9.

Warrell also said that Genta has picked up a license to the Fire-Mello patents for RNA interference, giving the company “pretty broad freedom to operate. We do not believe, and I think our attorneys concur, that anybody is going to have an essential blocking position on the technology as a whole.”

“That will be different for specific targets…but we broadly feel that this is a very new field and that no one is in a position to dominate,” he said.

Genta, of Berkeley Heights, NJ, said it expects the acquisition to close before the end of the third quarter.

— DM

The Scan

Fertility Fraud Found

Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.