PHILADELPHIA, May 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The coronavirus pandemic has significantly disrupted life in most countries around the globe, causing a severe health and economic crisis. AUM LifeTech, Inc., a preclinical stage biotech company developing RNA therapeutics, and AUM BioTech, LLC, a genetic research startup, have jointly launched a research program called Knockdown Coronavirus with a goal of developing a treatment for COVID-19. Under this initiative, the two Philadelphia-based companies are offering self-delivering RNA silencing research products, powered by FANA ASO technology, to the global coronavirus research community to facilitate research and fast track therapeutic development.
AUM LifeTech is currently working with collaborators with the goal of developing a therapy for COVID-19. AUM BioTech's next-generation gene silencing research tools have the capability to selectively knockdown RNA of the virus. Further, AUM BioTech's RNA targeting technology can be used to perform high-throughput genetic screening to identify the function of viral and host genes and help identify new targets for COVID-19 therapy development.
"We are very excited to launch this program and serve the global scientific community, which is working tirelessly to find a cure for COVID-19 in these unique and challenging times," said Veenu Aishwarya, founder and chief executive officer of AUM LifeTech, Inc. and AUM BioTech, LLC. "RNA targeting technology works by silencing (knocking down) the RNA that plays a crucial role, causing a loss of function, thus inhibiting viral replication and transmission. We are very proud to offer our RNA silencing platform, to better understand the biology of SARS-CoV-2 and its interaction with the host. Our goal is to provide our expertise and resources to facilitate COVID-19 research with a hope to develop a potential antiviral therapy for COVID-19 using our self-delivering FANA ASO technology. Additionally, we are actively seeking new alliances and invite the scientific community to partner with us to knockdown coronavirus and defeat COVID-19."
AUM LifeTech's scientific advisory board member Dr. John Rossi is a distinguished infectious disease scientist working on development of RNA targeting therapies for HIV and his expertise is globally recognized. Dr. Rossi, is the Lidow Family Research Chair and Morgan and Helen Chu Dean's Chair of the Irell and Manella Graduate School at Beckman Research Institute at City of Hope in California, and is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Beckman Research Institute. "Coronavirus is an RNA virus. We have in the past shown and published that AUM's self-delivering FANA ASO technology can inhibit replication of HIV (which is also an RNA virus) by selectively targeting the RNA of HIV without showing any apparent immune response," Rossi said. "We were very pleased with the RNA technology's utility and effectiveness in our anti-HIV applications. Unlike the antibody approach which targets the proteins and sometimes may take a longer time for development, nucleic acid-based approaches directly target the viral RNA and can potentially help develop a therapy in a relatively shorter time. We are confident that AUM's RNA silencing platform powered by FANA ASO technology can be effectively used to understand the biology of SARS-CoV-2, identify critical targets, and facilitate therapy development for COVID-19. We are excited about the prospect of seeing self-delivering FANAs ASOs as anti-coronavirus agents."
AUM is offering FANA ASO RNA silencing research reagents to the scientific community across multiple institutes who are currently working to find a therapy for COVID-19. This also includes some current members of COVID-19 International Research Team (COV-IRT). This team is co-lead by Dr. Afshin Beheshti, a scientist at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley and Dr. Todd Treangen, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Rice University. COV-IRT is focused on understanding SARS-CoV-2 through analyzing omics data, predicting potential targets, and help develop a therapy. AUM is working with some COVIRT members to help identify and narrow down genetic targets which can be used to develop RNA-targeting therapeutics for COVID-19.
AUM LifeTech is also collaborating with McGill University in Canada on another COVID-19 project using FANA ASO technology. Dr. Masad Damha is the distinguished James McGill Professor of Chemistry at McGill University and also the founding Scientific Advisory Board member of AUM LifeTech. He is globally recognized for the development of various next-generation nucleic acids chemistries and is the inventor of FANA technology.
"McGill is a leader in developing innovating medicinal chemistries. In collaboration with Dr. Jerry Pelletier, we have identified some key targets and are currently evaluating self-delivering FANA ASOs to target SARS-CoV-2. We look forward to working with AUM LifeTech to further COVID-19 therapy development," said Dr. Damha.
The list of AUM's collaborators working on COVID-19 programs is growing. By providing genetic research resources to scientists across multiple disciplines AUM hopes to gather data which can be utilized to develop an effective therapy for COVID-19. "AUM LifeTech and AUM BioTech are young biotech companies and small businesses and are stepping up to do our part to facilitate R&D," added Aishwarya.
The two companies that launched with the incubation support from the University City Science Center are now located at Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) in Philadelphia. CIC together with the Science Center, are part of the dynamic uCity Square community consisting of over 200 early-stage, emerging, and established technology and life science companies. CIC provides state-of-the-art office and lab coworking space to support founders and entrepreneurial teams in solving the world's problems through innovation.
"We created CIC more than 20 years ago to further research and innovation into important problems facing humanity. The real-time work AUM LifeTech and AUM BioTech are doing to fight the pandemic is a great example of this. The impact of COVID-19 is felt in every corner of the world, and seeing this tremendous challenge, AUM is stepping up to try to help design solutions. We are impressed by how AUM has improved RNA silencing and regulation technology that may help develop coronavirus therapies. We're proud to have been able to provide a supportive environment allowing this type of critical research to take place," said Tim Rowe, co-founder and CEO of CIC.
About AUM LifeTech, Inc.: AUM LifeTech, founded in 2013, is an American biotechnology company focused on using self-delivering RNA silencing FANA ASO technology to develop solutions in diverse life science verticals including biomedical research, medicine, agriculture, and aquaculture. Specifically, AUM's custom products include the next generation of innovative genetic tools in the area of gene silencing and manipulation for biomedical research and therapeutic development. RNA silencing products using FANA technology provide fast track target discovery and drug development. AUM's goal is to provide innovation at the genetic level for a better life.
About AUM BioTech, LLC.: AUM BioTech, founded in 2015, is a Philadelphia based biotechnology company that offers next-generation genetic research tools in the area of gene silencing and regulation. AUM's products are globally being used by biomedical scientists and researchers working on basic, transitional, and pre-clinical research.
SOURCE AUM LifeTech, Inc. and AUM BioTech, LLC.