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Nastech Licenses RNAi Intellectual Property and Technology from City of Hope

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Nastech Pharmaceutical Company Inc. has announced that it has entered into a license agreement with City of Hope for rights to Dicer- Substrate RNA interference intellectual property and technology.

Nastech obtained exclusive rights to five undisclosed targets selected by Nastech, as well as broad non-exclusive rights to siRNAs directed against all mammalian targets subject to certain City of Hope limitations that will have no impact on Nastech's programs.

Dicer-Substrate technology may enable the development of short interfering RNAs that could have improved pharmacological properties important for drug development and delivery when compared to conventional, first generation RNAi technology.

By leveraging the natural mechanism of RNA interference, it may be possible to develop therapeutics to target diseases that result from the overproduction of a protein, such as the TNF-alpha protein, which is associated with inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis.

In the case of RNAi therapeutics directed against viral respiratory infections, targets of RNAi therapeutics can include the conserved proteins critical for viral replication.

Inhibiting these proteins could prevent or slow the spread of infection, while potentially avoiding development of viral resistance.

First generation RNAi technology included the use of siRNAs that bypass a natural process controlled by the Dicer enzyme.

These conventional siRNAs were typically 21 base pair duplexes. A report published in February 2005 issue of Nature Biotechnology titled "Synthetic dsRNA Dicer substrates enhance RNAi potency and efficacy" indicated that 25-30 base pair RNA duplexes designed to act as substrates for processing by Dicer could be up to 100 times more effective at silencing genes, at lower concentrations than the corresponding conventional 21 base pair duplexes that bypass Dicer and without inducing an interferon response.

"The agreement with City of Hope for rights to this unique RNAi technology and intellectual property has the potential to offer a better way of developing potent siRNA therapeutics than the conventional method that is being widely used by other companies and in combination with Nastech's other intellectual property, we are in the unique position of being able to access all fundamental IP surrounding RNAi required for us to drive our siRNA therapeutics programs forward," stated Steven C. Quay, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman, President and CEO of Nastech.

"City of Hope is a world renowned research and medical institution and we are excited by the product opportunities offered by this technology."

"The Dicer-Substrate RNAi technology may help to accelerate the development of a new class of therapeutics," said Dr. John Rossi, Chair, Division of Molecular Biology, City of Hope.

"We are very pleased to enter into this agreement with Nastech, a leading company in the development of RNAi therapeutics and delivery technology."