Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation has announced that a new second-generation formulation of the Company's liposomal drug delivery technology has the potential to bring a 10-fold increase in potency to RNA interference (RNAi) drugs that are administered intravenously.
The preclinical data are being presented at the "RNAi, MicroRNA, and Non-Coding RNA" Keystone Symposium held March 25-30, 2008 in Whistler, British Columbia.
RNAi drugs have the potential to treat human diseases by "switching-off" genes that cause disease and the technology represents one of the most promising and rapidly advancing frontiers in biology and drug discovery and was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.
One of the hurdles to successful application of RNAi is delivering the drugs through the bloodstream to specific target organs and into cells. Encapsulating RNAi drugs in liposomes can protect the drug while in the bloodstream and allow for delivery into the target organ and cells.
In collaboration with scientists at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Tekmira scientists have tested numerous different lipid delivery formulations. The presentation at the Keystone conference highlights the use of a novel cationic lipid DLin-K-DMA in liposomes that target the liver and hepatocytes. The presented data shows an approximate 10-fold increase in potency relative to the Company's previous formulation work.
Timothy M. Ruane, Tekmira's President and CEO, said the data presented in collaboration with Alnylam highlight the advances the two companies are making with respect to intravenous administration of RNAi therapeutics.
"We intend to continue to build on this data as we identify new formulations with improved potency and formulations that can be used to target different organs and cells," said Ruane.
Tekmira and Alnylam have been collaborating on lipid delivery technology for the intravenous administration of RNAi therapeutics since 2006. In 2007, the companies announced a formal license agreement whereby Alnylam was granted exclusive access to Tekmira's intellectual property and technology for the delivery of RNAi therapeutics. Tekmira is eligible to receive up to US$13 million in milestone payments plus royalties for each and every RNAi product advanced by Alnylam that uses Tekmira's technology.