Monday, November 17, 2014

Dicerna Admits Defeat, Licenses LNP Tech from Tekmira

Show me the non-human primate data.  Robust evidence of gene knockdown in monkeys is a key requirement to gain confidence in a company’s liposomal delivery claims.  Dicerna has never done that and yet been able to pull off an IPO and make claims about clinical development timelines without actually being in possession of a realistic delivery technology.

In retrospect, it is not surprising that they eventually had to come hat in hand to the liposomal delivery powerhouse, aka Tekmira- after claiming that its liposomal delivery technology (EnCore) was superior to Tekmira’s…  After all, Dicerna is under pressure to get its first proper development candidate in the clinic for Primary Hyperoxaluria Type I (PH1), especially after Alnylam had publicly announcedtheir intention to go after PH1, too.

According to the agreement announced today, Dicerna will use Tekmira’s 3rd generation LNP technology and manufacturing to get DCR-PH1 into the clinic sometime in 2015.  In return, Tekmira will get $2.5M upfront, $22M in potential development milestones and single-digit royalties- in other words, nothing to write home about other than the satisfaction that they were proven right scientifically.

You may interject that Dicerna already has a clinical program using EnCore technology, DCR-MYC for cancer.  Unfortunately, there are many ways to curing cancer in mice and I am yet to be convinced that they have been primarily the result of RNAi mechanism of action.

In summary, a moral victory for Tekmira, a deal that made sense for Dicerna and which could and should have happened a long time ago.  In a final twist of irony, Dicerna has given Tekmira a back-handed compliment in issuing another press release today where it announces that future development programs will be based on Dicerna’s conjugate delivery technology.

Now that makes actually sense for a Dicer-substrate-based company.  Expect Alnylam to increase its saber-rattling vis-a-vis Dicerna.

Disclosure: Long Dicerna, no position in Tekmira


Anonymous said...

Could you share your investment thesis here

Dirk Haussecker said...

I'm looking as much at oligo Rx technical fundamentals as what I think the market will do going forward.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. You suspected they were having delivery problems. What sets them apart from ALNY going forward?

Anonymous said...

Also, long run do you see any non-exon skipping approaches to DMD?

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