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Novartis AG has led a handful of Big Pharma into the potential new therapeutic modality of RNAi. Here we review those early moves in this nascent field, and take a look at which of the industry's big players has got game in RNAi. Sidebar to "Big Pharma's Leap into Biologics: Bridging both Scientific and Cultural Gaps"
If 2006 was a breakout year for RNAi the concept, then 2007 could be a breakout year for RNAi drug development itself. In the past few years there has been a surge of newcomers to the space, in some cases sporting high-quality venture backers and boldfaced names in RNAi. Some companies have decided to play ball with the industry leaders, sublicensing Alnylam's IP around their chosen targets, for example; others have filed their own IP-either outside the Alnylam and Merck umbrellas or putting them on a relatively slow-motion collision course with the two power brokers; still others have argued that patenting novel delivery technologies will provide them with the necessary edge in licensing negotiations, should they come about, or with pharmaceutical partners.
When UK cell therapy company CellFactors failed to raise money last year, one of its shareholders stepped in as COO, bringing commercial experience and a customer focus to a group that lacked both. CellFactors is still a risky bet, but its recent progress suggests that European biotechs have much to gain from managers with a track record in other sectors.
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