Tekmira Pharmaceuticals said today it obtained a worldwide, nonexclusive license to Marina Biotech’s Unlocked Nucleobase Analog (UNA) RNAi payload technology for development of RNAi therapeutics.

In return, Marina will receive an upfront payment plus milestone and royalty payments on products developed by Tekmira that use UNA technology. Financial terms of the license agreement were not disclosed.

According to the companies, UNAs have the potential to improve RNAi drugs by increasing their stability and reducing off-target effects. UNAs are acyclic ribonucleoside analogs in which the bond between C2′ and C3′ atoms is broken, in contrast to widely-used locked nucleosides that include a bridged bond between C2′ and C4′. The resulting variation in sugar structure renders the UNA much more flexible.

“We intend to leverage our expertise in LNP delivery and our broad understanding of therapeutic RNA payload design to optimize the use of UNA in our development pipeline, as well as provide pharmaceutical partners the opportunity to license UNAs combined with our LNP delivery technology to develop RNAi therapeutics,” Mark J. Murray, Ph.D., Tekmira’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

Tekmira’s LNP technology (formerly “stable nucleic acid-lipid particles” or SNALP) encapsulates siRNAs with high efficiency in uniform lipid nanoparticles that are effective in delivering RNAi therapeutics to disease sites in numerous preclinical models. The LNP platform is being used in multiple clinical trials by Tekmira and its partners.

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