Merck announced the closing of the RNAi research center it obtained in its acquisition of Sirna Therapeutics five years ago. The company still plans to utilize the RNAi technology throughout its global R&D operation according to a company spokesman.
Merck’s acquisition of Sirna raised eyebrows across the industry from the beginning, because of the high price tag ($1.1 billion), and the early-stage nature of RNAi technology. This technology has intrigued scientists for several years, because it offers the potential of hitting biological targets of disease that are currently inaccessible by conventional small-molecules or larger biotech drugs.
Merck hasn’t pointed to any RNAi-based drugs that have emerged in its pipeline, and it has publicly emphasized the challenge it has faced finding ways to effectively deliver these drugs in the body. There are no such RNAi-based drugs approved yet by the FDA for sale in the U.S. (or elsewhere). Roche earlier this year also pulled the plug on its RNAi program. See Xconomy.
Posted by Bruce Lehr July 29th 2011.