It’s actually very simple, and apparently it is small biotechnology companies that are first to realize and act on it: Develop a technology that can deliver small silencing RNAs to a given cell/tissue type, and only our exploding insights into the genetics of disease set the limit for the number of potential indications. This benefits both the delivery company that can re-coup some of their investments through licensing out its technology for a few of the many possible targets, and also the licensee which does not need to exhaust and risk its capital to develop its own delivery technology, but can focus on their targets and pick something already fairly de-risked off the shelf for what should be reasonable financial terms at this juncture.
This must have been the reason why Mirna Therapeutics, after apparently having given up on neutral lipid emulsion technology it had developed with BIOO Scientific (LANCEr), has now chosen to partner with Silence to evaluate that company’s endothelial cell-directed AtuPLEX delivery system, which has already shown some promising results in the clinic (see ASCO 2011 presentation), and Silence’s more novel DBTC delivery system for hepatic nucleic acid delivery, for use with its MicroRNA Therapeutic payloads (most likely mimics) to treat cancer. This follows similar deals last month with Dutch cancer MicroRNA Therapeutics company InteRNA, and a collaboration with a mysterious ‘Top Ten Pharma’ (most likely Takeda) concerning the AtuPLEX-related DACC delivery system for lung endothelial cell-directed siRNA delivery.
Whether all these deals will pay off for Silence and their partners now depend on their progress in the lab. It is likely that the work with Mirna Therapeutics will involve miR-34 which is a well validated tumor suppressor microRNA, and has also been implicated in angiogenesis, making it an interesting microRNA mimic to be evaluated with Silence’s lipid-based delivery systems.
As I’m writing this, Arrowhead just announced that it has acquired Roche’s RNAi assets…deal activity in RNAi Therapeutics is clearly heating up again!