Mirrx Therapeutics this week announced that it has formed a strategic alliance with the Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology in Australia, formalizing an ongoing collaboration focused on developing microRNA-blocking drugs for cardiovascular and oncology indications.
According to Mirrx, the joint effort focuses on vascular endothelial cadherin, a protein found in the endothelial lining of the blood vessels that regulates junctional structure and downstream signaling events, including regulation of vascular permeability and promotion of normal angiogenesis.
The two partners previously discovered that vascular endothelial cadherin is partially regulated by miRNA-27a, which itself is downregulated during angiogenic processes. This leads to increased expression of vascular endothelial cadherin and reduced vascular permeability and stimulation of angiogenesis.
Mirrx and Centenary are developing a drug called CF5-2, which uses the company's so-called Blockmir technology to inhibit the regulation of vascular endothelial cadherin by miR-27a without affecting the miRNA's activity against other targets.
Blockmirs are essentially are steric antisense blockers that bind to specific miRNA binding sites in target RNAs to prevent miRNAs from binding to the same site.
"If a Blockmir bind to an off-target RNA, this will only have an effect if it prevents binding of a microRNA or another cellular factor," according to Mirrx. Because this is unlikely, Blockmirs are believed to have a lower risk of side effects.
In preclinical studies in a hindlimb ischemia mouse model, the compound has shown the ability to inhibits vascular permeability and promotes angiogenesis, leading to increased blood flow, decreased oedema, and faster recovery, Mirrx said.
These findings were recently published in Blood.
News of the collaboration comes just a few months after Mirrx successfully defended its ownership of the Blockmir technology in a lawsuit filed by Santaris Pharma (GSN 7/25/2013).