Fresh doubts fuel a harsh reassessment of RNAi deals

The news from the RNAi field turned distinctly chilly last year. Now GenomeWeb kicks off the new year by ticking off a list of RNAi companies that ended 2010 without a promised collaboration deal. And some analysts and company execs say the deal scene has changed in recent times as Big Pharma companies show a sharply diminished appetite for the kind of risk and cost involved in the discovery field.

"Simply put, we are finding that companies [would] rather pay more for a platform with proven clinical results than pay less for a technology and assume the risk that it may not translate well into the clinic," said Arrowhead Research CEO Christopher Anzalone. Arrowhead subsidiary Calando is a prominent player in RNAi.

At least four other RNAi companies were in the same boat, reported the genomic news service: Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, RXi Pharmaceuticals, Marina Biotech, and microRNA firm Rosetta Genomics.

Part of the problem is that they went looking for partners after some of the biggest players in the industry had inked major partnerships with the likes of Alnylam while Merck acquired Sirna. Now there are growing concerns about just how productive the field is, and would-be partners are leery of committing to new deals.

- here's the story from GenomeWeb