Bayer teams with Cenix in RNAi tech discovery deal

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Bayer teams with Cenix in siRNA tech discovery deal

Related tags Rna interference Rna

Bayer has inked a deal with preclinical CRO Cenix BioScience to use its genome-scale RNA interference (RNAi) platform to target an undisclosed disease.

Bayer has worked with Cenix previously, with the contract research organisation (CRO) delivering a collection of potential novel therapeutic targets to the Big Pharma firm as part of an RNAi-based discovery collaboration in 2005​.

Though details of this latest target discovery project are undisclosed, both in terms of disease area and financials, Christoph Sachse, Director of Cell-based Services at Cenix, spoke with to discuss the RNAi technology and general demand from Big Pharma for such services.

“RNA interference is the best method to date to systematically identify gene functions across the genome, using high-throughput cell-based assays,”​ he told us, and “the past few years have seen a refinement and advancement of all aspects of this technology.”

This includes: “The quality of the available siRNA/shRNA libraries, the use of more sophisticated cell models, the application of RNAi/drug modifier & synthetic lethal concepts, the development of new controls, and a considerable advancement in hit mining and hit validation approaches,” ​he continued, which have all improved the power of RNAi screening technology.

Though he would not talk about Bayer specifically, Sachse spoke to us about the increased general demand for Cenix’ contract research services.

“[This is] likely due to the fact that some of the big pharma companies are streamlining their internal capabilities in the pre-clinical space, such that more work is being outsourced to contract research providers.”

In the past few months, Merck & Co. has divested its siRNA business by selling it to Alnylam for $700m​, and late last month Swiss giant Novartis pulled out of the market​.

Whilst there are other external platforms available for high-content screening services in general and high-throughput RNAi screening in particular, Sachse said Cenix offers “full data transparency and highest standards of reporting​” making it “unique among preclincial CROs on the market.”

Cenix opened a new small interfering RNA (siRNA) R&D subsidiary in Belgium in 2011​, and since then the firm has expanded its US operations​ and inked contracts with Janssen and Debiopharm​.

Related topics Preclinical Research Preclinical

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