HOERSHOLM, Denmark and SAN DIEGO, Sept. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Santaris Pharma A/S, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the research and development of mRNA and microRNA targeted therapies, today announced advancements from the company's RNA-targeted research programs utilizing its proprietary Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) Drug Platform. In addition to a presentation on the Company's microRNA-targeted drug miravirsen, a total of six abstracts/posters are being showcased at the 7th Annual Meeting of the Oligonucleotide Therapeutics Society (OTS) held September 8-10 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The LNA Drug Platform and Drug Discovery Engine developed by Santaris Pharma A/S combines the Company's proprietary LNA chemistry with its highly specialized and targeted drug development capabilities to rapidly deliver potent single-stranded LNA-based drug candidates that can selectively inhibit mRNA and microRNA targets for a range of diseases including metabolic disorders, infectious and inflammatory diseases, cancer and rare genetic disorders.
"Santaris Pharma A/S is pleased to have the OTS hold its annual meeting here in Denmark this year as it recognizes the groundbreaking RNA-targeted research and development being conducted in Denmark from companies such as Santaris Pharma A/S as well as public institutions and research centers," said Henrik Oerum, Ph.D., Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Santaris Pharma A/S.
"Santaris Pharma A/S is excited to showcase its microRNA and mRNA-targeted research advancements utilizing its proprietary Locked Nucleic Acid Drug Platform," Dr. Oerum added. "The Company is providing an update on the progress of its lead microRNA-targeted drug candidate, miravirsen, for the treatment of Hepatitis C; presenting data on the use of Santaris Pharma A/S proprietary 'tiny' LNA-based drugs to inhibit entire microRNA-targeted families and highlighting data demonstrating 'naked' delivery uptake of LNA-based drugs, a key advantage over other RNA based technologies. This collection of data attests to the versatility of the LNA Drug Platform and clearly supports Santaris Pharma A/S leadership position in discovering and developing RNA-targeted medicines."
In a talk titled, "Targeting miRNA-122 for the Treatment of HCV," Dr. Oerum will provide an update on the development of miravirsen, the first microRNA-targeted drug to enter clinical trials, which is now in Phase 2 studies to assess the safety and tolerability of the drug in treatment-naïve patients infected with HCV. Data from Phase 1 clinical studies with miravirsen in healthy volunteers show that the drug is well tolerated.
Previously published data in Science demonstrated that miravirsen successfully inhibited miR-122 and dramatically reduced Hepatitis C virus in the liver and in the bloodstream in chimpanzees chronically infected with the Hepatitis C virus(1). Because of its unique mechanism of action and tolerability profile, miravirsen has the potential to be an effective treatment option for patients with HCV.
In addition, scientists at Santaris Pharma A/S will present data using proprietary bioinformatics techniques to demonstrate the specificity of "tiny" 8-mer LNA-based compounds, which have shown to successfully inhibit entire microRNA families providing potential new approach for treating a range of diseases including cancer, viral infections, cardiovascular and muscle diseases. Recent data published in Nature Genetics showed that the high affinity and target specificity of tiny LNA-based compounds enabled functional inhibition of entire microRNA families in a range of tissues without off-target effects(2).
MicroRNAs have emerged as an important class of small regulatory RNAs encoded in the genome. They act to control the expression of sets of genes and entire pathways and are thus thought of as master regulators of gene expression associated with many diseases. Because they dictate the expression of fundamental regulatory pathways, microRNAs represent potential drug targets in the treatment of many disease processes.
Santaris Pharma A/S also will present data demonstrating successful "naked" delivery uptake of LNA-based compounds, an advantage over other RNA-based technologies that require complex delivery vehicles. Data showed that LNA-based compounds readily enter cells in an active form allowing in vitro prediction of potent therapeutically active compounds as well as in vivo distribution to manifold cell types and tissues. Without the need for using complex delivery vehicles, the versatility of the LNA Drug Platform is the key for scientists to develop both microRNA and mRNA-targeted drugs with excellent specificity and increased affinity to drug target, providing improved potency and favorable tissue-penetrating properties.
The Santaris Pharma A/S LNA Drug Platform is the only RNA technology with both mRNA and microRNA targeted drugs in clinical trials, demonstrating the broad utility of the proprietary platform. In September 2010, Santaris Pharma A/S successfully advanced miravirsen, a lead microRNA drug candidate targeting miR-122, into Phase 2 studies for the treatment of patients infected with the Hepatitis C virus. In addition, Santaris Pharma A/S also advanced two mRNA-targeted drugs, SPC5001 targeting PCSK9 and SPC4955 targeting apoB, for the treatment of high cholesterol into Phase 1 in May 2011.
With its partners, Santaris Pharma A/S has a robust product pipeline consisting of mRNA and microRNA drug discovery and development collaborations. These include partnerships with Pfizer, Inc. (delivery of lead candidates against up to 20 targets), miRagen Therapeutics (cardiovascular diseases), Shire plc (rare genetic disorders), GlaxoSmithKline (four viral disease drug candidates) and Enzon Pharmaceuticals (eight cancer targets successfully delivered – three are now in Phase 1 clinical studies).
About Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) Drug Platform
The LNA Drug Platform and Drug Discovery Engine developed by Santaris Pharma A/S combines the Company's proprietary LNA chemistry with its highly specialized and targeted drug development capabilities to rapidly deliver LNA-based drug candidates against RNA targets, both mRNA and microRNA, for a range of diseases including cardiometabolic disorders, infectious and inflammatory diseases, cancer and rare genetic disorders. LNA-based drugs are a promising new class of therapeutics that are enabling scientists to develop drug candidates to target pathways previously considered inaccessible. The LNA Drug Platform overcomes the limitations of earlier antisense and siRNA technologies to deliver potent single-stranded LNA-based drug candidates across a multitude of disease states. The unique combination of small size and very high affinity allows this new class of drugs candidates to potently and specifically inhibit RNA targets in many different tissues without the need for complex delivery vehicles. The most important features of LNA-based drugs include excellent specificity providing optimal targeting; increased affinity to targets providing improved potency; and favorable pharmacokinetic and tissue-penetrating properties that allow systemic delivery of these drugs without complex and potentially troublesome delivery vehicles.
About Santaris Pharma A/S
Santaris Pharma A/S is a privately held clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of RNA-targeted therapies. The Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) Drug Platform and Drug Discovery Engine developed by Santaris Pharma A/S combine the Company's proprietary LNA chemistry with its highly specialized and targeted drug development capabilities to rapidly deliver potent single-stranded LNA-based drug candidates across a multitude of disease states. The Company's research and development activities focus on infectious diseases and cardiometabolic disorders, while partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies include a range of therapeutic areas including cancer, cardiovascular disease, infectious and inflammatory diseases, and rare genetic disorders. The Company has strategic partnerships with miRagen Therapeutics, Shire plc, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Enzon Pharmaceuticals. As part of its broad patent estate, the Company holds exclusive worldwide rights to all therapeutic uses of LNA. Santaris Pharma A/S, founded in 2003, is headquartered in Denmark with operations in the United States. Please visit www.santaris.com for more information.
(1) Lanford et al, Therapeutic silencing of microRNA-122 in primates with chronic hepatitis C virus infection. Science 327 (5962): 198-201
(2) Obad, et al. Silencing of microRNA families by seed-targeting tiny LNAs. Nature Genetics 10.1038/ng.786.
SOURCE Santaris Pharma A/S