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GEN News Highlights : Mar 23, 2009

Novartis Licenses MDRNA's siRNA Delivery Technology for $7.25M

Separate agreement allows companies to negotiate an R&D collaboration.

Novartis Pharmaceuticals entered a licensing agreement with MDRNA to pay $7.25 million in up-front fees for a liposomal technology platform for siRNA delivery. In a separate agreement, Novartis was granted an exclusive period to negotiate an R&D collaboration and broader licensing rights related to MDRNA's RNAi drug delivery platform.

The DiLA2 Platform enables MDRNA to tailor the charge, linker, and acyl chains of amino acids to optimize the liposome for delivery to the target tissue of interest. In addition, it is designed to permit attachment of various peptides and other targeting molecules to improve a variety of delivery characteristics.

"MDRNA's DiLA2 technology for siRNA delivery is effective and efficient at silencing gene targets in the liver and jejunum," says J. Michael French, president and CEO of MDRNA. "We have not observed any delivery-related adverse effects in the liver as measured by typical serum chemistries or any significant increases in cytokine levels, which are hallmarks of cell damage."

MDRNA reports that it received a delisting notice from NASDAQ on March 6 but has requested a hearing. The only other major pharmaceutical licensee of its technology is Roche. MDRNA also has research alliances with the University of Helsinki, the University Laval, and the CDC.