UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS MEDICAL SCHOOL LICENSES KEY NEXT GENERATION RNA INTERFERENCE (RNAi) INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY TO INTRADIGM
Company Continues to Fortify Position in Emerging RNAi Industry through Addition of Important and Novel Small Interfering RNA (siRNA) Structural IP
April 9, 2008
WORCESTER, Mass.—The University of Massachusetts Medical School today announced that it has licensed key intellectual property (IP) covering certain efficacy-enhancing structural elements of small interfering RNA (siRNA) to Intradigm Corporation, a leading developer of targeted, systemic RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics. The licensed IP includes parameters for the structural modifications for next generation siRNAs including the “Zamore Design Rules” that significantly improve the potency and efficacy of RNAi therapeutics. This licensed technology allows Intradigm to incorporate novel siRNA sequences into the company’s proprietary RNAi delivery systems to create potent and effective siRNA therapeutics. Intradigm announced this licensing agreement as part of its presentation at the Bio-Europe Spring 2008 conference in Madrid, Spain.
“Zamore Design Rules” were developed by Phillip D. Zamore, PhD, the Gretchen Stone Cook Chair of Biomedical Sciences and Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology, and colleagues in his laboratory at UMMS. Zamore is an international leader in the science of RNA interference whose experiments have shed light on how RNAi works at the molecular level, specifically identifying that it was the small double-stranded RNA, the result of an enzymatic chopper called Dicer, which precisely guided the silencing reaction of the process. Zamore was recently named among the top 25 authors of high impact papers in molecular biology and genetics. Published in the January/February 2008 issue of Science Watch, the list ranks authors in the top one percent of most cited papers in their fields between 2002 and 2006. Dr. Zamore is number 18 on the list, with eight high-impact papers cited a total of 1,802 times, with an average 225 citations per paper.
“We are keenly aware of the critical role that the fundamental RNAi research being conducted in our labs may play in ultimately bringing novel RNAi therapeutics to patients who desperately need them,” stated James P. McNamara, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Office of Technology Management at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “For this reason, we are driven to align with leaders in the RNAi therapeutic space, such as Intradigm, to provide them access to our intellectual property and support their important drug development efforts. We are eager to witness Intradigm’s progress and excited at the prospect of our IP playing a central role in the company’s future success.”
The technology licensed from the University of Massachusetts Medical School provides Intradigm with a strong IP position around structural modifications for a next generation of siRNA molecules. Additionally, Intradigm also possesses a strong IP position surrounding biodegradable polycationic polymers for the delivery of RNAi therapeutics which the company further strengthened through its recent licensing of complementary technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This newly licensed RNAi IP estate, combined with Intradigm’s innovative delivery technology and proprietary siRNA sequences, positions the company as a leader in the RNAi therapeutic space.
"By licensing this important IP from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, which we believe to be the clear center of excellence for breakthrough siRNA academic research, Intradigm has taken another critical step toward its goal of establishing itself as the leader in the development and commercialization of novel RNAi therapeutics," said Mohammad Azab, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Intradigm. “We have established an impressive IP portfolio that spans the areas of siRNA structure and sequence, as well as RNAi delivery, providing us a distinct competitive advantage enjoyed by very few other companies.”
About the RNAi Nanoplex Delivery Technology
To address the issue of effective and targeted delivery of RNAi therapeutics, Intradigm has developed and in-licensed an extensive intellectual property portfolio around its proprietary RNAi Nanoplex (NPX) delivery technology. The RNAi NPX delivery technology is a modular, multi-component delivery vector that carries active siRNA molecules in its core with the flexibility to attach a Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) layer and/or a targeting ligand to the polymer-siRNA NPX to improve circulation half life and achieve selective distribution to the target tissue. At the core of the RNAi NPX delivery technology is Intradigm’s proprietary peptide-based biodegradable polymer known as PolyTran™. PolyTran enables safe systemic delivery of the siRNAs. Additionally, this platform is unique in its ability to offer tissue specific targeting of siRNA through the attachment of specific ligands directed to target cell receptors. An additional key strength of the RNAi NPX delivery technology is its ability to incorporate multiple siRNAs in a single drug product. These multi-targeted therapeutics can simultaneously silence several mRNAs that represent parallel or synergistic elements of the same disease pathway resulting in a more comprehensive and/or novel therapeutic potential.
Recent technology licensing agreements with institutions such as the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have enhanced Intradigm’s existing intellectual property portfolio and provided Intradigm with the rights and know-how to leverage a broad family of polymers and polymer structures, as well as next generation siRNA structures, in connection with its RNAi Nanoplex delivery technology.
About the University of Massachusetts Medical School
The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research. The Medical School attracts more than $176 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. The work of UMMS researcher Craig Mello, PhD, an investigator of the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and his colleague Andrew Fire, PhD, then of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, toward the discovery of RNA interference was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and has spawned a new and promising field of research, the global impact of which may prove astounding. UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health care provider in Central Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.umassmed.edu.
Intradigm is a private biotechnology company dedicated to the development of targeted, systemic RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics for the treatment of serious diseases with an initial focus on oncology.
At present, Intradigm is working to build a high-value internal pipeline of RNAi oncology therapeutics, and is actively advancing its lead drug candidate, ICS-283, for a variety of cancer indications. The company is pursuing a comprehensive integrated RNAi therapeutic development strategy that incorporates advanced RNAi delivery technology, RNAi structural technology and novel, proprietary therapeutic siRNA sequences. For more information on Intradigm, please visit www.intradigm.com.
Intradigm Corporation, Phil Haworth, (650) 855-1514, firstname.lastname@example.org
UMMS, Alison Duffy, (508) 856-2000, email@example.com
Vida Communication (on behalf of Intradigm), Stephanie Diaz (investors), (415) 675-7400, firstname.lastname@example.org
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