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Abbott Laboratories (ABT) And Dharmacon, Inc. Collaborate To Develop New siRNA-Based Therapeutics


7/6/2006 10:34:11 AM

ABBOTT PARK, Ill. and LAFAYETTE, Colo., July 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Abbott and Dharmacon Inc., a unit of Fisher Biosciences, today announced a collaboration to develop new therapeutic agents based on a gene silencing technology of RNA interference (RNAi). The research could extend drug discovery efforts for the two companies into disease targets where traditional discovery technologies have not been successful.

During the collaboration, Abbott and Dharmacon will work to identify therapeutic siRNAs for multiple therapeutic areas, initially focusing on oncology. Dharmacon's industry-leading proprietary siRNA chemistries, its innovative SMARTselection(TM) and SMARTpool® technologies and its specificity-enhancing design modifications will be used to optimize siRNAs for therapeutic use. Abbott will manage the drug discovery and development process and will be responsible for commercialization of products that result from the collaboration. Financial terms are not being disclosed.

"Joining forces with RNAi pioneer Dharmacon to develop drug candidates that harness the clinical potential of this revolutionary technology is very exciting," said Stephen Fesik, Ph.D., divisional vice president, Cancer Research, Abbott. "The collaboration fits our strategy to extend Abbott's portfolio with novel therapies in areas of high unmet need. By combining our drug discovery and development expertise with Dharmacon's continuing advances in understanding the fundamentals of siRNA-based gene silencing, we will be able to explore targets that everyone knows exist, but have not been able to successfully create drugs to address. The flexibility and selectivity of siRNA therapeutics should provide promising approaches that are not easily achievable with small molecules or antibodies."

"We are very pleased to be working with a therapeutic development partner with the broad experience and proven track record of bringing innovative new drugs to market as we embark on an ambitious collaboration to develop novel drug therapies using RNAi," said William S. Marshall, Ph.D., vice president of technology and business development for Fisher Biosciences. "Dharmacon has long been committed to leadership in the RNAi field, and we believe that the major advances we have achieved in the past few years will be especially valuable in our drug development efforts with Abbott."

RNA interference, commonly referred to as RNAi, is a mechanism that cells use for selectively silencing gene expression and decreasing the amount of specific proteins inside the cell. This process is mediated by small, naturally-occurring double-stranded RNA molecules; however, it can be induced by adding chemically-synthesized, short-interfering RNAs (siRNAs) to the cell. siRNAs can be made that silence most cellular genes by altering the RNA sequence to match the corresponding gene sequence. This has exciting therapeutic potential since it provides a new way of targeting known disease- causing genes, including those for which small-molecule drugs have not been found.

About Abbott

Abbott (NYSE: ABT - News) is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics. The company employs 65,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries.

Abbott's news releases and other information are available on the company's Web site at http://www.abbott.com .

About Dharmacon

Dharmacon is a business unit within the Fisher Biosciences group and the world's leading provider of reliable, high-quality RNA oligonucleotides, small interfering RNA (siRNA) and related RNA interference (RNAi) products and technologies. The Dharmacon brand is backed by core expertise in chemistry, biology, bioinformatics and production. Dharmacon has pioneered a custom siRNA design service that employs its proprietary technologies for maximizing the efficiency of gene silencing, a powerful and increasingly widely-used new technology based on siRNA. For more information about Dharmacon-brand products visit http://www.dharmacon.com or call 1-800-235-9880.

About Fisher Biosciences

Fisher Biosciences, a unit of Fisher Scientific International Inc. (NYSE: FSH - News), manufactures and supplies a wide range of products and services across the general-chemistry and life-sciences arenas. From fine and high- purity chemicals, clinical diagnostics, proprietary protein-research and cell culture products, and sterile-liquid-handling systems, to innovative RNA- interference technology and high content screening, Fisher Biosciences serves scientific-research, healthcare, drug-discovery, and general industrial customers around the world. For more information please visit http://www.fisherbiosci.com .

Source: Abbott


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