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AstraZeneca strikes mRNA-based partnership in respiratory disease

Published on 22/08/17 at 10:45am

AstraZeneca and MedImmune, the company’s biologics research arm, have forged a five year research partnership with mRNA-based pulmonary disease specialist Ethris to leverage the latter’s proprietary SNIM RNA technology in the development of stabilised non-immunogenic modified RNA therapies for respiratory diseases.

The deal means Ethris will benefit from a $25 million payout upfront, followed by research funding, and milestone payments. Upon commercialisation, the German firm will also receive royalties and will have the option to take exclusive global licensing rights for each target of the partnership.

Though the alliance doesn’t promise any new drugs in the short-term, the pair hope that their work together can lead to advancements in diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. 

Ethris’ RNA technology works by identifying, then inhibiting or augmenting proteins in the lungs which are implicated in the development of respiratory diseases. RNA therapeutics are known for triggering immune and inflammatory responses, reducing their effectiveness, though Ethris claims that its platform eliminates this problem.

“This collaboration complements our respiratory science focused on early intervention and disease modification by adding novel ways to target disease mechanisms that cannot be addressed by other approaches currently in our pipeline,” Bahija Jallal, Executive Vice President of MedImmune said.

Dr Carsten Rudolph, President and CEO of Ethris, added: “This collaboration validates Ethris’ leading position in the development and delivery of mRNA therapies for the treatment of pulmonary diseases. This collaboration pairs our proprietary technology with the world-class expertise of AstraZeneca and MedImmune in respiratory diseases, biologics development and commercialisation, and positions us to bring forward new options for patients.”

Matt Fellows

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