Sunday, November 11, 2007
When Will Pfizer Finally Make its Big Move in RNAi Therapeutics?
Just watching Pfizer’s actions in RNAi Therapeutics from a distance is quite curious. Initially, they appeared to be toying around with DNA-directed shRNAs, but then engaged in a triangular relationship for developing an RNAi Therapeutics for AMD with Quark and Silence based on Silence’ AtuRNAi-type of siRNAs and Quark’s identified target gene. Pfizer also appears to be scouting out RNAi delivery solutions with a deal earlier this year with Mirus Bio that was followed by a neat publication on hepatocyte-specific RNAi delivery in PNAS (see 24 July 2007 Blog: ”Mirus Scientists Publish Elegant Paper on Targeted siRNA Delivery to Hepatocytes”). Around the same time, I counted at least seven delegates from Pfizer at thie year’s leading RNAi Keystone conference who, I suspect, weren’t there just to satisfy their scientific curiosity.
It seems prudent for Pfizer to learn more about the potential for RNAi Therapeutics first-hand through smaller collaborations with groups that have demonstrated know-how in RNAi Therapeutics before committing more significant resources. On the other hand, if they really saw potential in the technology and given their balance sheet, it would appear that the longer they wait the costlier the licenses that Novartis, Roche, and others regard as a must for freedom-to-operate. Particularly with the recent Alnylam-Roche deal, the pressure among Big Pharma is only going to increase. With Merck’s chair now empty at Alnylam’s table, Silence up for sale, and the their biotech initiative taking shape, I wonder whether Pfizer is going to get serious and make their move soon.
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