Calando Pharmaceuticals Inc. has announced that it has established a collaborative development program relating to RNAi-based therapeutics with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The terms of the development will be governed by a Letter of Intent to a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) that is currently being finalized by Calando and the NCI.
Calando, a privately-held biopharmaceutical company that is majority owned by Arrowhead Research Corporation was formed to develop and commercialize proprietary technologies for the therapeutic use of RNA interference, or "RNAi."
The program with the NCI's Pediatric Oncology Branch will focus on developing RNAi therapeutics to attack neuroblastoma, the most common extracranial solid tumor in children younger than five years of age.
Despite advances in modern therapy, metastatic neuroblastoma remains incurable. One barrier to a cure is finding an effective way to deliver RNAi therapeutics, particularly to metastatic cancer, which could be located anywhere in the body.
A collaborative study by Caltech and Children's Hospital Los Angeles recently demonstrated that Calando's proprietary delivery technology can deliver short interfering RNA to targeted cancer cells and inhibit tumor growth in mice by silencing the target gene.
The Calando/NCI research program is anticipated to last at least three years, and involve preclinical research and its translation into human clinical trials.
Responsibilities for development of the various therapeutics will be shared between Calando and the NCI.
The studies will include research on several receptor/ligand pairs for enhanced tumor targeting and multiple siRNA targets.
Additionally, molecular imaging techniques will be used in combination with the therapeutic agents for the combined detection and treatment of cancer.
All of the aspects of the project will involve the use of Calando's proprietary RNAi delivery technology that is based on a linear cyclodextrin-containing polymer designed to deliver nucleic acids such as siRNA.
"We are very excited to be able to collaborate with such a diverse and talented group of physicians and scientists at the NCI," said John Petrovich, Calando's CEO.
"Through this collaboration, Calando and the NCI hope to develop therapeutics to treat more effectively one of the deadliest cancers."
"Securing this collaborative relationship with the NCI demonstrates both the scientific and competitive strength of Calando's technologies," commented R. Bruce Stewart, Chairman of Arrowhead Research Corporation, which provided Calando's initial round of funding early last year.