Santaris Pharma and the Department for Medical Biochemistry and Genetics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, have announced the creation of a MicroRNA Research Consortium, supported in part by funding from the Danish Advanced Technology Foundation.
Copenhagen University’s MicroRNA Research Unit is actively engaged in research on recently discovered human genetic "switches" called microRNAs, which appear to be specific for particular cancer types and regulate the severity of cancer as well as being involved in other serious human diseases.
Santaris Pharma’s proprietary Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) drug technology has the unique potential to single out and inactivate such disease causing genes.
Such specific microRNA antagonists may have substantial potential as therapeutic agents for the treatment of human cancer and other diseases.
The MicroRNA Research Consortium has been established to create an international team focused on the developing field of microRNAs as new drug targets in biomedical science.
The Research Consortium’s first objectives will be to target microRNAs involved in human cancer and develop effective drugs that block their action.
The University will have the first right to patent new drug targets and Santaris will be responsible for the development and commercialisation of LNA antagonists of these microRNA targets as potential new cancer drugs.
The Santaris Pharma - University of Copenhagen MicroRNA project was the only biotech award and one of only 5 projects from small and medium sized companies selected by the High Technology Fund for support out of a total of 131 such applications.
Sakari Kauppinen, Head of the MicroRNA Research Unit at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Genetics at Copenhagen University commented, "We are excited about the Consortium and about working with Santaris Pharma, whose experience in developing LNA-based drugs is highly synergistic with our scientific expertise in microRNA research."
"Our joint goal is to transform basic knowledge of microRNAs in disease into biopharmaceutical products with the potential to improve the treatment of cancer patients."
In announcing the Consortium, Keith McCullagh, President and CEO of Santaris Pharma said, "MicroRNA antagonists could become an important new drug class with the opportunity to achieve breakthroughs in clinical medicine."
"Sakari Kauppinen and his research team at the University of Copenhagen have established an international reputation in microRNA research and we look forward to a successful collaboration."
"We are also delighted that the Danish Advanced Technology Foundation has recognised the scientific and commercial potential of the Consortium with significant financial support."