Firm hopes to develop a new methodology to treat inflammatory diseases.

Regulus Therapeutics obtained exclusive rights from Stanford University to worldwide patent applications covering methods and compositions for antagonizing miR-181a to regulate immune responses. Changes in miR-181a levels have been shown to modify the response of immune cells such as T lymphocytes to specific stimuli. Additionally, its antagonism could lead to a new way to treat inflammatory diseases, according to the company.

Research recently published by scientists at Stanford University and Alnylam demonstrated that modulation of miR-181a levels in an immune cell modified the sensitivity of the cell to specific stimuli.

The team found that by increasing expression of miR-181a, an increase in the immune cell’s response to an inflammatory stimulus occurred. Conversely, decreasing levels of miR-181a in the immune cell led to a diminution in the cell’s response to an inflammatory stimulus, thereby desensitizing the cell to the stimulus.

Using a selective miRNA antagonist to inhibit miR-181a function resulted in efficient reduction in the immune cell’s response to a stimulus. This data suggests that controlling miR-181a levels with selective antagonists may lead to a novel approach to treating inflammatory diseases.

“We are excited about obtaining exclusive rights to this intellectual property, as it is another step in Regulus’ overall strategy to build a broad and leading platform of technology and intellectual property for the development of miRNA therapeutics,” remarks Kleanthis G. Xanthopoulos, Ph.D., president and CEO. Less than a year ago, Regulus was created as a joint venture between Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Isis Pharmaceuticals.

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