The Patent Doc blog discusses whether Big Pharma has lost all interest in RNAi or not. RNAi of course was touted when discovered to be the next generation of new blockbuster therapeutics. Billions of dollars have been spent on research to date while not yielding any approvals. The biggest hurdle to success continues to be problems in delivering the drug to the right place - both a targeting and stability issue (in bloodstream).
Several celebrated Big Pharma players have backed away from RNAi work in the past two years, including Roche (after a $500 M investment), Pfizer, and Abbott. Novartis decided to end its 5-year partnership with Alnylam late last year though will still continue to work on programs it had going internally.
Regardless, the Patent Doc post points out that similar delays in initial acceptance are common in drug development with new technologies, and that mAbs also took more than 20 years to gain approval before blockbusters like Avastin or Humira showed up. There are about a dozen RNAi drugs in clinical trials now despite the apparent turmoil --which is still a high water mark for the technology.
Posted by Bruce Lehr March 26th 2011.