In a landmark deal, City of Hope’s Office of Technology Licensing recently licensed intellectual property relating to RNA interference, more commonly called RNAi, to pharmaceutical giant Roche.
The licensed RNAi technology involves the use of short pieces of RNA that can reduce the function of targeted genes.
RNA is a genetic molecule that is chemically related to DNA. A common form of RNA, called messenger RNA, helps translate the genetic code from DNA to create proteins.
|Brian Clark (Photo by p.cunningham)|
RNAi works by harnessing a cell’s own machinery to chew up target messenger RNAs, preventing the genetic code from being translated into a protein.
“This is another significant RNAi licensing deal for City of Hope,” said Brian R. Clark, Ph.D., director of the Office of Technology Licensing. While the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, Clark noted that “by getting the technology into the hands of companies, including a large pharmaceutical company, we further increase our chances of seeing products developed that can treat patients and provide royalty income to support research at City of Hope for years to come.”
The deal was the product of intense discussions with several groups, including Roche and City of Hope’s existing licensee, MDRNA Inc.
John J. Rossi, Ph.D., Lidow Family Research Chair and chair of the Department of Molecular Biology, Dongho Kim, Ph.D., a former postdoctoral fellow in Rossi’s lab, and collaborator Mark Behlke, M.D., Ph.D., vice president of molecular genetics and biophysics at Integrated DNA Technologies, co-invented the licensed technology.
City of Hope researchers currently are using RNAi technology in clinical trials for AIDS-related lymphoma.
Said Richard Jove, Ph.D., director of Beckman Research Institute: “It’s heartening to see Beckman Research Institute playing such a key role in the RNAi field. Dr. Rossi is a world renowned leader in this field and has made numerous key discoveries. We have high hopes that RNAi technologies, including City of Hope’s contribution to the field, will provide a means to specifically suppress genes that drive cancer and other serious diseases.”