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Tekmira Licenses UNA Technology from Marina

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Tekmira Pharmaceuticals last week announced that it has acquired a worldwide, non-exclusive license to Marina Biotech's unlocked nucleobase analog technology, which is used to design RNAi payloads.

According to a Marina filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Tekmira paid $300,000 upfront for the license, and will pay clinical and regulatory milestones, as well as low single-digit royalties on future product sales.

The payment comes at a time when Marina has essentially shut down its operations amid a cash shortfall (GSN 10/18/2012).

The UNA technology involves acyclic ribonucleoside analogs in which the bond between C2' and C3' atoms is broken. The change in sugar structure makes this nucleoside analog flexible, reducing the binding affinity between two strands of siRNA molecule and gives “unique characteristics to its gene-silencing abilities,” according to Marina.

The technology was originally developed by RiboTask, but acquired by Marina in a series of transactions beginning with a 2008 licensing deal.

"We intend to leverage our expertise in LNP delivery and our broad understanding of therapeutic RNA payload design to optimize the use of UNA in our development pipeline, as well as provide pharmaceutical partners the opportunity to license UNAs combined with our LNP delivery technology to develop RNAi therapeutics," Tekmira President and CEO Mark Murray said in a statement.

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