Partners will use Dicer Substrate Technology and develop delivery systems.

Dicerna Pharmaceuticals and Kyowa Hakko Kirin entered an agreement to develop oncology therapies using the former’s Dicer Substrate Technology and Dicer Substrate siRNA (DsiRNA) molecules. Dicerna will receive $4 million in up-front cash payments including research funding and up to $120 million in additional research funding and milestone fees related to achieving development and commercial goals.

Dicer is a critical enzyme involved in the gene-silencing cascade. Dicer processing of double-stranded RNA oligonucleotides of 25 or more base pairs and hand-off to the gene-silencing complex results in significantly more potent activity and longer duration of action, the companies explain. This differentiates it from other RNAi approaches and results in the knockdown of expression of a targeted gene in a way that is highly selective and specific.

“Dicer Substrate Technology is a highly promising approach to provide innovative RNAi-based therapeutics,” remarks Etsuo Ohshima, Ph.D., managing officer and vp of research division at Kyowa Hakko Kirin. “This collaboration aims to reinforce the possibility of DsiRNA-based medicines by means of specific delivery to tumors or certain tissues. We believe that this endeavor to modulate intracellular targets can be complementary to our own antibody-based approach featuring Potelligent® technology to cell surface targets. Dicerna will be an important partner for Kyowa Hakko Kirin to open an opportunity of new medications for patients.”

The partnership initially includes one target but if successful, will be expanded by adding up to 10 targets and by broadening the therapeutic focus. Dicerna is entitled to royalty payments on sales of all products fully developed against any of these targets. Dicerna also has an option to equally co-promote and profit-share in the U.S. for the initial target.

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