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Invitrogen Acquires Sequitur in Bid to Grow RNAi Research Products Business

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Adding another link to its chain of acquisitions, Invitrogen announced this week that it has bought closely held Sequitur, in an effort to expand its line of RNAi research products.

Invitrogen currently markets numerous RNAi products, including its transfection and transcription kits and reagents, but does not offer siRNAs themselves. Now, the company will be able to add to its product lineup Sequitur’s Stealth RNAi compounds, which are essentially siRNAs around 27-mer in length that have been modified so that they will not trigger a cellular interferon response.

“We recognize that some of the most significant advances are going to come out of [RNAi],” Greg Geissman, public relations manager at Invitrogen, told RNAi News. “By providing a more complete RNAi solution to our end users, we felt we were going to be able to help them do their research better.

“In order to provide this complete system for RNAi, we naturally need all the components,” he added. “Sequitur and their unique next-generation siRNA were a good fit.”

So while the future of the Stealth RNAi technology appears secure in the hands of Invitrogen — a company that generated nearly $200 million in revenues in the third quarter for a $13.7 million profit— the future of Sequitur is not so certain.

Part of Sequitur’s activities involve developing Stealth RNAi compounds as therapeutic agents. The company has been exploring the use of the technology to deliver RNAi-based drugs to the liver, to the lungs, and to tumors. Geissman said, however, that while “we see the fact that there’s a future in RNAi for use as a therapeutic, our real focus will continue to be … as a partner to biotech and pharma on the research end.

“We are evaluating what the possibilities are,” he added. “Right now, I imagine, we’re going to stick pretty closely on the research side, and we haven’t really begun to make plans as far as the therapeutics go.”

Geissman also said that a final decision hasn’t been made on what to do with Sequitur itself. “Right now, we are evaluating what we have in the company, and [are] putting together an integration plan [for Sequitur].” He said that, for the near-term, Sequitur will continue to operate as a stand-alone company. He said that Invitrogen could be characterized as considering all options, but stressed that “for the immediate term, Sequitur will operate as it has.”

He declined to quantify “immediate term,” and declined to comment on what roles, if any, of Sequitur’s senior management will play in Invitrogen following integration.

If Invitrogen’s handling of other recent acquisitions — the company took over Molecular Probes, of Eugene, Ore., this summer and Pan Vera, of Madison, Wisc., in March, and acquired Bethesda, Md.-based InforMax late last year — is any indication, however, Sequitur’s staff shouldn’t start packing up just yet. Geissman said that all three companies are continuing along as subsidiaries of Invitrogen, and only InforMax’s facilities have been moved.

Officials from Sequitur did not return telephone calls from RNAi News by press time.

—DM

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