Company will leverage its nucleic acid delivery technology to study therapeutic candidates.

Ablitech, a biotechnology company developing polymer-based delivery systems for gene-silencing drugs, has been awarded a $2 million grant by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The firm will provide long-term pain management research and develop treatments in cooperation with the Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center, says Ken Malone, CEO.

The funds will be used to develop treatments for heterotopic ossification (HO). HO is a random painful bone growth that occurs after severe trauma such as amputation or concussion. Ablitech’s Versadel™ will be leveraged to deliver an siRNA that can selectively turn off unwanted cell growth.

Versadel reportedly provides a nontoxic, biocompatible method for the systemic and local delivery of antisense DNA and siRNA in the body. Initial laboratory trials under a phase 1 SBIR verify that the product is adept at stopping affected cells from growing and demonstrates the ability to turn off selected protein production in cancer cells, according to Ablitech.

The platform works by using very selective chemistry to attach a hydrophilic polymer to a nucleic acid. The polymer protects the nucleic acid by creating a thin shell around it until it is safely delivered inside of a cell. Once inside the cell the chemisty reverses and the nucleic acid is released from the polymer. The polymer is safely cleared from the body as the nucleic acid begins interfering with the production of disease-causing proteins, Ablitech explains.

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