GSK launches rare diseases unit: Today, GSK announced that it will move more aggressively into addressing rare diseases and set up a unit for this. The rationale is that developing medicines for diseases that have largely been neglected by the pharmaceutical industry in the past will have a good pharmaco-economic profile and ultimately be more profitable. More and more, selling pills to the masses does not appear to be the answer to Big Pharma’s patent woe and productivity cliffs. This should be very good news for RNAi Therapeutics, which offers a direct and cost-efficient way to such (often genetic) diseases, and maybe we will see this deal between GSK and Alnylam later this year.
Pfizer exercises option for Tacere’s HCV candidate: DNA-directed RNAi company Tacere, a Benitec spin-off, announced today that Pfizer has exercised its development-commercialisation option for Tacere’s HCV drug candidates. Pfizer obtained the option in the deal 2 years ago with Tacere (see blog entry here). This follows pre-clinical studies in rodents and monkeys that, according to the press release, have shown the AAV vector to penetrate the liver well and to be generally well tolerated. Pfizer will now collaborate with Tacere and fund the IND-enabling studies. This triggers undisclosed milestone payments, some of which will be due to technology licensor Benitec which, in addition, has an equity stake in Tacere. There is hope for ddRNAi Therapeutics!