RNAi deals picking up speed

Roche and AstraZeneca have followed Merck's lead in investing heavily in the relatively new field of RNA interference gene-silencing treatments. Roche signed with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, a biotech with expertise in RNA interference treatments, in a licensing deal that could reach $1 billion, while AstraZeneca signed a smaller deal with the U.K.'s Silence Therapeutics, worth just over $400 million. Earlier, Merck obtained its access to RNAi by buying Sirna Therapeutics for $1.1 billion.

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