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InteRNA Inks Sponsored-Research Deal with Dana Farber for miRNA Cancer Rx Discovery

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By Doug Macron

Dutch microRNA drug developer InteRNA Technologies this week announced that it has formed a sponsored-research agreement with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to develop cancer therapeutics targeting the small, non-coding RNAs.

Under the deal, InteRNA’s lentiviral-based miRNA over-expression library will be used in “multi-parametric, high-throughput functional screening assays” to identify the role of individual miRNAs in various cancer pathways. The company hopes to discover novel miRNAs as therapeutic targets.

The deal comes a little less than seven months after InteRNA forged a similar deal with Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands focused on prostate cancer (see RNAi News, 4/23/2009), and about a year after the company struck an miRNA drug-discovery partnership with Cenix Bioscience (see RNAi News, 11/20/2008).

According to InteRNA CEO Roel Schaapveld, the company is still in the earliest stages of its efforts to develop miRNA-targeting drugs for cancer and is focusing on target discovery and validation.

InteRNA also has research and development activities related to drug delivery, he told RNAi News, but these, too, are preliminary since the firm has yet to even decide what kind of technology will drive any therapeutic candidate.

“At this stage, we are completely open to what the drug modality will be,” he said. “It can be a mimic, [or] it can be [an miRNA antagonist.] But it can also be a small molecule against a downstream target.”

Nonetheless, work is proceeding apace, and InteRNA expects that it will have generated proof-of-concept data in mouse models within one and a half to two years, Schaapveld said, adding that “along the route, we may also be looking at in-licensing opportunities” that could change that timeline.

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