Wyeth and Santaris Pharma to collaborate on RNA-based medicines
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Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a division of Wyeth, and Santaris Pharma have announced that the companies have entered into a worldwide strategic alliance to discover, develop and commercialize new medicines based on Santaris Pharma’s proprietary Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) drug platform, which allows specific targeting and regulation of microRNAs (miRNAs) and messenger RNAs (mRNAs) as a means to affect gene expression mediated by the targeted RNAs.
Under the terms of the agreement, Santaris Pharma will receive an upfront payment of $7 million in cash and Wyeth will make a $10 million equity investment in Santaris Pharma. Santaris Pharma may receive further milestone payments of up to $83 million for each of 10 potential targets. In addition, Santaris Pharma would receive royalties on the worldwide sales of all products arising from the alliance. The term of the research portion of the collaboration is three years. Wyeth has the right to extend the research portion up to two additional years.
Wyeth will select the RNA targets against which Santaris Pharma will use their proprietary LNA drug platform to generate unique drug candidates. Wyeth will be responsible for the development and commercialization of products arising from the alliance.
“With this alliance Wyeth explores a fourth platform technology targeting RNAs, which complements our expertise in small molecules, vaccines and protein-based therapeutics,” says Mikael Dolsten, President, Wyeth Research. “This will increase our ability to develop and bring to market innovative, high-value medicines that have the potential to address significant unmet needs in critical therapeutic areas.”
“We are delighted to welcome Wyeth as a new major partner,” says Soren Tulstrup, President and CEO of Santaris Pharma. “This strategic alliance further consolidates Santaris Pharma’s leading position in the rapidly evolving RNA-based therapeutic field. The scope of this collaboration demonstrates the utility of Santaris Pharma’s proprietary LNA Drug Platform for developing new therapies targeting RNAs.”
About the Locked Nucleic Acid Drug Platform
There are two major classes of RNA targets for this collaboration. messengerRNAs and microRNAs. miRNAs are recognized as important elements in regulation of gene expression in both normal and diseased cells, whereas mRNAs are translated into the proteins that determine all aspects of cell identity and behavior. Santaris Pharma’s proprietary technology allows for the discovery of molecules that specifically and potently inhibit the function of either of these classes of RNA.
The Locked Nucleic Acid-based technology developed by Santaris Pharma creates synthetic chemical versions (LNAs) of the normal nucleic acid building blocks of RNAs. These LNAs improve the drug-like qualities of resulting therapeutics, called oligonucleotides, by increasing resistance to metabolism, increasing half-life and improving tissue uptake. The LNA-based therapeutics also demonstrate improved binding affinity to their target RNA, which increases potency many-fold over other nucleotide therapeutics.
Santaris Pharma announced today that SPC3042, a RNA-based antisense oligonucleotide developed using the company’s proprietary Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) technology, potently blocks survivin, a key survival protein in cancer cells, in both in vitro and in vivo models of prostate cancer. Importantly, SPC3042 works synergistically with the anticancer drug paclitaxel (Taxol) in both model systems.
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