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GEN News Highlights : Jul 13, 2010

RXi Wins $600K NIAID SBIR Grant for RNAi Therapeutics

Company is focusing rxRNA platform on dermatology and ophthalmology.

RXi Pharmaceuticals won a $600,000 Phase I Advanced Technology SBIR grant from the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The funds will be used for preclinical development of RNAi therapeutics based on RXi’s therapeutics platform comprising novel RNAi compounds and delivery technologies.

The firm says the NIAID SBIR grants are awarded to projects that may require more time and money for development than are routinely allowed under the standard SBIR program. It will receive $300,000 per year during 2010 and 2011 for the Phase I stage of the grant and may request up to another $1 million per year for up to three years for the Phase II stage.

RXi is a discovery-stage biopharma developing a pipeline of RNAi molecules known as rxRNAs™. It claims rxRNAs are distinct from traditional siRNAs in that they demonstrate increased nuclease stability, reduced toxicity levels, and are more easily manufactured. Rxi’s platform is being exploited to design a number of different forms of RNAi compounds, including rxRNAori™, rxRNAsolo™, and self-delivering sd-rxRNA™ molecules. The rxRNA technology is being combined with RXi’s suite of delivery technologies to help optimize the delivery of its therapeutic candidates for both tissue-targeted and systemic applications.

In June RXi announced that as a result of a strategic review of operations it plans to focus its internal therapeutic efforts on the fields of dermatology and ophthalmology. Programs in antiscarring and retinal disorders are currently in progress. RXi projects having its first antiscarring candidate ready for IND submission in 2011, the firm states.

The company in addition aims to evaluate and carry out early development of therapeutic rxRNA candidates in fields including neurology and oncology and then seek partners for further development. In the CNS field RXi is looking at the potential to exploit its self-delivering sd-rxRNA’s for the treatment of severe CNS or spinal cord diseases. Cancer therapeutics research will be focused on liver metastases and hepatocellular carcinoma, using systemic delivery of sd-rxRNA or rxRNA compounds in combination with delivery vehicles.