Roche will provide $18.4 million to use Tekmira’s SNALP delivery platform in preclinical studies.

Tekmira Pharmaceuticals will use its delivery technology to help Roche advance its first two RNAi candidates into clinical testing. The agreement includes $18.4 million to support IND-enabling studies, $32 million in milestones, plus royalties.

Each product will comprise Roche’s siRNAs encapsulated in a Tekmira stable nucleic acid-lipid particle (SNALP) formulation. Roche and Tekmira expect an IND for the first product candidate to be filed before the end of 2010.

“We believe Tekmira’s SNALP is the leading lipid nanoparticle delivery technology, and we are confident that Tekmira’s research and manufacturing capabilities will help us to meet our product development objectives,” says Louis Renzetti, head of RNA therapeutics at Roche.

Both companies will collaborate on the preclinical testing. Tekmira will develop and manufacture the product for use in all preclinical studies. The deal also provides that Tekmira will manufacture one batch of clinical product for a Phase I trial.

Tekmira says that the deal also adds to its resources to advance its internally developed preclinical therapies: ApoB SNALP and PLK SNALP. ApoB SNALP is being developed for hypercholesterolemia, and PLK SNALP for cancer treatment.
Other firms that have signed on to leverage Tekmira’s SNALP technology include Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co., and Aradigm.

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