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Thermo Fisher Scientific launches RNAi services lab
WALTHAM, Mass.—Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.'s RNAi research and production center in Lafayette, Colo., is now home to the new RNAi Discovery and Therapeutic Services laboratory, which will offer advanced RNAi screening and analysis services, as well as development of new therapeutic technologies involving RNAi.
The new lab features an integrated platform of Thermo Scientific technologies, including Dharmacon siRNA and miRNA libraries, BioImage and Cellomics high-content screening reagents and image analysis instrumentation, as well as robotics and software for laboratory automation.
"By providing RNAi-based screening on a contract basis, we will make it possible for any laboratory to realize the benefits of this important advancement in drug discovery," says Marc N. Casper, executive vice president of Thermo Fisher Scientific. "The RNAi Discovery and Therapeutic Services laboratory provides clients with access to unmatched scientific expertise and the ability to rapidly achieve meaningful results from this innovative workflow, while providing training and systems recommendations to clients establishing their own internal capabilities."
The lab is more than just an opportunity to profit from the growing RNAi market, according to Mike Deines, vice president of sales and marketing for Dharmacon products and drug discovery for Thermo Fisher. It is a continuation, he says, of an evolving commitment the company has made to the technology going back to 2003 when it made available a genome-wide siRNA library for the human and mouse genomes.
"Once we did that, we realized immediately that we needed to do something to shorten the normal time experienced in the pharmaceutical market between when innovative new technologies hit and when they are used effectively," Deines says. To help shorten that lag, Thermo spearheaded the formation of the RNAi Global Initiative, a consortium of not-for-profit institutes and leading academic institutions across the world to share knowledge and best practices.
This lab, he says, is the next step in that evolutionary chain of Thermo's goal to advance RNAi in the market, and will offer such services as target identification, target validation, drug optimization, biomarker discovery and RNAi therapeutic technology development—as well as finding ways to rescue drugs that hit snags in the development process.
"We have an industry-leading position in RNA- and RNAi-based technologies through our Dharmacon product line, now marketed under the Thermo Scientific brand," Casper notes. "Our core expertise in RNAi biology and therapeutic technology development, high-throughput screening, RNA chemistry and drug discovery research, combined with our unique portfolio of bioreagents, instrument systems and robotics, enables us to perform highly advanced contract services in-house. We can also offer customers the option of transferring this integrated workflow to their own facilities."
That latter capability, Deines says, will be of great importance to many companies.
"By producing a replica of our reagents, assays and automation at client facilities, we can shorten by years the time it would take to get a facility up and running on their own," Deines notes. "For most clients, this would potentially be a benefit compared to investing years of work and large numbers of people to develop the technology and optimize it from the ground up. We can save them enormous amounts of money and time. Time is money, and in pharma, time is big money, so the impact of our lab could be dramatic."
The laboratory will also provide supplemental resources and expertise for overburdened labs already using RNAi technology. Services range from a single screen to multi-component projects, and include RNAi-based high-throughput screening and hit validation, high-content screening, micro-RNA expression profiling and analysis, as well as lab automation and integration.