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GEN News Highlights : Mar 30, 2010

Ipsen and Dicerna to Develop Gene-Silencing Therapeutics for Cancer and Endocrinology

Ipsen’s peptide targeting vector platform will be used to deliver Dicerna’s DsiRNAs.

Ipsen and Dicerna are combining their respective technologies as part of an exclusive collaboration to develop therapeutics in the field of oncology and endocrinology. The partnership will marry Ipsen’s peptide targeting vector platform with Dicerna’s Dicer Substrate siRNA (DsiRNA) technology for the cell-specific, intracellular delivery of DsiRNAs that silence specific disease-causing genes The firms hope their combined technologies will generate new DsiRNA-based therapies that demonstrate targeted delivery, high potency and extended duration of action.

“This is the second significant partnership with a major biopharmaceutical company that we have entered into in 2010, further validating our next generation Dicer Substrate Technology and our unique ability to generate a greater number of more potent gene silencing molecules,” claims James C. Jenson, Ph.D., Dicerna’s CEO and co-founder.

Dicerna is developing second-generation RNAi-based therapies and related drug delivery systems based on its Dicer Substrate Technology. The Dicer enzyme is a natural initiation point for the RNAi cascade that acts earlier in the pathway to prepare double-stranded RNA for processing, the firm explains. It claims that introducing sequence-specific RNA templates on which Dicer can act has resulted in the generation of a more potent and longer-lasting variant of RNA interference. The Dicer Substrate Technology™ can thus effectively be used to knock down the expression of a targeted gene in a manner that is both highly selective, specific, and more potent than other RNAi approaches, Dicerna states.

The company’s deal with Ipsen is its second major partnership in 2010. In January, Dicerna inked a research collaboration and license agreement with Kyowa Hakko Kirin focused on the research, development, and commercialization of drug delivery systems and DsiRNA pharmaceuticals in the cancer field.

Under terms of this deal, Dicerna received $4 million in cash up front, and could earn another $120 million in additional research funding, development, and commercial milestones for exclusive rights to one target in the field of oncology. The companies may also expand the scope of the collaboration by adding another 10 targets, and broadening the therapeutic focus of the partnership.