Santaris Pharma has received a minority equity stake in miRagen as part of an alliance to develop miRNA-targeted therapeutics against cardiovascular disease. The agreement will give miRagen rights to use Santaris’ Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) oligonucleotide platform to identify and select single-stranded LNA-based drug candidates against miRNA targets. Santaris will also receive milestone payments and royalties on future product sales.
miRagen's deal with Santaris follows on from a collaboration signed in April with RXi Pharmaceuticals. This agreement is focused on evaluating RXi’s rxRNA technology against specific miRNA targets in the cardiac and neuromuscular disease fields.
miRagen claims that the LNA platform is ideal for developing miRNA-targeted candidates. The firm’s president and CEO, William S. Marshall, Ph.D., says the LNA technology provides “the most effective antimicroRNA chemistry we’ve explored to date.”
Santaris’ LNA platform combines LNA chemistry with a drug discovery engine to enable the design of single-stranded LNA-based candidates against mRNA or miRNA targets. Santaris claims the LNA chemistry allows the generation of high-affinity candidates in oligonucleotides that can be administered systemically, without the need for toxic delivery formulations required to deliver double-stranded siRNAs.
The firm is exploiting the technology both for in-house drug development and in collaboration with partners for a range of disease fields including metabolic diseases, cancer, infectious diseases, and rare genetic diseases. LNA candidates against cancer and hepatitis C are already undergoing early clinical trials.
The hepatitis C candidate is in development by Santaris. The company’s collaboration with Enzon has resulted in the progression of three LNA candidates into clinicalal development. miRagen is developing a preclinical pipeline of miRNA therapeutics for the treatment of cardiovascular and muscle disorders.