SR Pharma plc has announces that Quark Biotech Inc. has started a Phase I clinical trial with RTP-801i, a small interfering RNA (siRNA) therapeutic product licensed from Atugen AG, a subsidiary of SR Pharma plc.
RTP-801i is based on Atugen's proprietary siRNA (AtuRNAi) technology and modifies the expression or function of one specific gene target, which is involved in the progression of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
RTP-801i has been licensed to Quark Biotech for the treatment of AMD and other diseases. This Phase I study is being funded by Pfizer Inc., which in-licensed RTP-801i in a deal announced on 26 September 2006 for the treatment of AMD.
AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world affecting about 15 million Americans alone over the age of 50. The target indication for RTP-801i is the neovascular or wet AMD. Wet AMD is the most devastating form of the disease and occurs due to the formation of an abnormal vascular network beneath the retina of the eye.
Iain Ross, Chairman, said: "We are excited about the AMD clinical trial commencing as it marks the first clinical study with one of our AtuRNAi molecules. The advancement of this compound represents another strong validation for SR Pharma's proprietary AtuRNAi (siRNA) technology and triggers a further $1.5 million milestone payment.
This follows the initial $2 million milestone received in 2006. The fact that this is only the fourth clinical programme with siRNA therapeutics worldwide confirms SR Pharma's leading position in this young Nobel Prize winning technology."
Dr Klaus Giese, Chief Scientific Officer, said "These developments further demonstrate our ability to design siRNA molecules, based on our own patented siRNA chemistry, which can address specific disease targets. This capability means that we are able to generate new molecules for our own development programmes in the cancer field whilst concurrently offering collaboration partners access to stabilised siRNA molecules for use against other targets and indications."