Roche hands over RNAi assets to Arrowhead Research

A year after Roche triggered considerable angst in RNAi circles with its plan to dump its extensive work in the field, Arrowhead Research has stepped up with a deal to acquire the Big Pharma company's assets as well as a research center in Madison, WI. The little biotech immediately heralded its arrival as one of the world's biggest players in the troubled RNAi field.

In exchange for a minority stake in Arrowhead and the right to negotiate for milestones and royalties, Roche is handing over its RNAi portfolio, which includes more than 40 scientists working at the Madison site, IP rights from Alnylam, a licensing deal with Tekmira, and Roche Madison's delivery platform.

"This acquisition is transformational for us and important to the broader RNAi field," said Arrowhead CEO Christopher Anzalone. "The combination of these assets and Arrowhead's existing RNAi technologies results in what we believe to be the broadest RNAi therapeutics company in the world, with unparalleled delivery solutions and licenses granting broad freedom to operate within the three primary siRNA formats."

Roche threw in the towel on RNAi when it opted out of the field in November. Roche complained about problems with cell-specific delivery, and its bleak outlook helped undercut the entire development arena, raising doubts about how long it will be before RNAi can start delivering approved products.

- here's the Arrowhead release