Nastech Pharmaceutical Company Inc. has announced the expansion of its RNAi therapeutics pipeline by initiating an RNAi therapeutics program targeting influenza and respiratory diseases.
In connection with this program, Nastech also announced the acquisition of the RNAi intellectual property estate and other RNAi technologies of Galenea Corp., Cambridge, MA, which includes certain intellectual property licensed from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the development of RNAi therapeutics against respiratory viral infections, including influenza, rhinovirus, and other respiratory diseases.
"This unique combination of Nastech's proprietary RNAi therapeutics delivery technologies with the intellectual property and technology developed by Galenea and MIT advances Nastech's position in developing innovative RNAi therapeutics," stated Steven C. Quay, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman, President and CEO of Nastech.
"This acquisition strengthens Nastech's existing RNAi therapeutics pipeline through the addition of Galenea's ongoing programs that target influenza and other respiratory diseases."
"The RNAi therapeutics program targeting the influenza virus is a high priority for Nastech as we believe it may offer an effective treatment for a future influenza pandemic, which is an urgent global concern."
"This program complements Nastech's current TNF-alpha RNAi program targeting inflammation, since a consequence of influenza infection can be life- threatening respiratory and systemic inflammation."
"The strategic acquisition of Galenea's intellectual property rights and technology in the respiratory antiviral field is critical to developing and partnering products in this area."
The intellectual property acquired from Galenea includes patent applications licensed from MIT that have early priority dates in the antiviral RNAi field.
Nastech also acquired Galenea's research and intellectual property relating to pulmonary drug delivery technologies.
Additionally, Nastech assumes Galenea's pending grant applications from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Defense to support the development of RNAi-based antiviral drugs.
Galenea's lead RNAi product, G00101, has demonstrated efficacy against multiple influenza strains, including avian flu strains (H5N1) in animals.
Nastech expects to work closely with the NIH, CDC and FDA to accelerate G00101 development given the urgent need for influenza therapeutics.
Galenea clails that, G00101 represents an approach to fight influenza and is one of the most advanced anti-influenza compounds based on the recently discovered cellular mechanism known as small-interfering ribonucleic acid.
It is currently administered by inhalation to maximize delivery to the lung epithelium. The product is designed for ease of use by patients and for long-term stability - essential for stockpiling the product for rapid mobilization during a flu epidemic.
G00101 works by preventing viral replication and transcription in the airway epithelium. In vitro and in vivo studies have shown that these RNAi sequences provide broad-spectrum influenza protection and have reduced potential of drug resistance.
"It is anticipated that Nastech's RNAi delivery technology combined with the MIT intellectual property and the Galenea RNAi technology will provide a superior strategy to significantly speed the development of these promising new approaches for treating respiratory diseases, including influenza," said Jianzhu Chen, Ph.D., Professor of Immunology at MIT and developer of the acquired RNAi antiviral technology, who will become a consultant to Nastech.
"The development of RNAi therapeutics targeting sequences that are highly conserved across all flu genomes, including avian and others having pandemic potential, represents a novel approach to the development of new therapies against influenza viruses."