Cenix sets up new siRNA contract R&D centre

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Rna interference Contract

siRNA-focused CRO Cenix BioScience has set up an R&D subsidiary in Belgium, citing growing demand for this type of specialised contracting.

The new unit, which will be named Cenix BioScience BVBA, will provide contract siRNA discovery development services to partners in pharmaceutical and biotech industries.

CEO Chris Echeverri told Outsourcing-Pharma.com that setting up the new business “represents a very logical "next step" addition to our current range of offerings, it was of obvious strategic value for us to follow this path​.”

However,​" he continued "to achieve this, some notable technical obstacles first need to be addressed adequately, namely the need for more robust and efficient in vivo siRNA delivery solutions, and so, this will be our immediate development focus​.”

Pharma sector demand

Echeverri also cited a considerable upsurge in demand in the last eighteen months, which helped the firm to a record financial performance in 2010, as a reason for investment in the new R&D unit.

This demand, he explained, comes from risk-averse pharma firms that recognise the potential of siRNA but often lack the technical knowhow to make such development projects a success.

He told Outsourcing-Pharma.com that: “Many groups have spent a lot of resources building up own RNAi screening facilities, only to find that it takes more than two full years before such teams, no matter how well-equipped, become truly effective in benefitting the pipeline with these capabilities.

This means that pharmas can only justify such activities internally if they have fully confident about having sufficient internal, sustained and long-term need for their output, otherwise, it makes far more sense to rely on an external partner for this​.”

RNAi barriers to CRO sector

Technical challenges are also serving to slow the growth of competition in the contracting sector according to Echeverri, who reiterated that: “RNAi-based contract research represents one of the most complex, challenging types of CRO offerings out there.

These are large, very complex and highly customized projects, and therefore, the entry barriers, build-up costs, running costs and inherent risks are all quite considerable.​”

This type of contracting, he continued, requires considerable technical knowhow which “means CROs face huge risks in building this up, and therefore, those​very few, such as Cenix, who​have already accumulated​strong and well-diversified experience in this area have a huge competitive advantage."

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