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Dicerna Aims for Partnership in '12, IND in '13


By Doug Macron

Having just hit a $5 million milestone under its partnership with Japan's Kyowa Hakko Kirin, Dicerna Pharmaceuticals is in a position to fund its operations through next year and on track to meet its goal of filing its first investigational new drug application in 2013, the company's top official said.

Last week, Dicerna announced that its two-year-old alliance with Kyowa had yielded its first drug candidate, which is being designed as a treatment for cancer (GSN 12/15/2011). Though the specific nature of the indication is not being disclosed, Dicerna CEO Douglas Fambrough confirmed that it has no liver involvement.

Kyowa will now take over the agent's development, triggering a $5 million payment to Dicerna that will extend the RNAi shop's runway “into 2013,” he noted.

But while the payment represents “a material amount of money, it's not like you can run a biotech company for a long time on it,” Fambrough noted. As such, Dicerna is looking at additional routes to non-dilutive funding in the coming year.

These include additional payments from Kyowa, which elected to add a second oncology target to the companies' alliance following the selection of the first candidate this month, he said. The companies are also working together in immunologic and inflammatory diseases.

At the same time, Dicerna hopes to secure another industry partnership sometime in 2012.

“We are having discussions that certainly would support” such an arrangement, Fambrough said, though he cautioned that a deal is “not done until it's done.”

Meantime, Dicerna continues to make progress with its internal programs, which center around the company's Dicer-substrate molecules delivered with a proprietary delivery technology the features of which remain undisclosed.

The company has maintained a focus on oncology, and is currently advancing two efforts — one in prostate cancer and one in liver cancer — though it remains to be seen which will yield the first IND candidate.

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