Ethris has joined efforts with AstraZeneca and its biologics research and development arm MedImmune to develop novel mRNA-based therapies for respiratory diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Under the terms of the five-year research agreement, Ethris will receive 25 million euros upfront (about $29.5 million U.S.), in addition to research funding. In the future, Ethris may also receive profits from sales royalties and other research and development milestones.
Upon completion of the research plan for each target in the agreement, AstraZeneca and MedImmune have the option to pursue exclusive worldwide licenses.
“This collaboration validates Ethris’ leading position in development and delivery of mRNA therapies for the treatment of pulmonary diseases,” Carsten Rudolph, president and CEO of Ethris, said in a press release.
“This collaboration pairs our proprietary technology with the world-class expertise of AstraZeneca and MedImmune in respiratory diseases, biologics development and commercialization, and positions us to bring forward new options for patients,” Rudolph added.
RNA-based therapies are designed to provide genetic instructions to specific cells to have them produce proteins that may alter the course of a disease or manage its symptoms. Ethris has developed a new RNA-based technology that is focused in the use of messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules.
Taking advantage of Ethris’ proprietary stabilized non-immunogenic mRNA (SNIM) platform, the companies can design potential new therapeutic mRNA particles with increased stability and reduced effects on the immune system.
With repeated administrations, SNIM-developed mRNA molecules can induce sustained production of proteins that the lungs require for normal function. This strategy can also be used to inhibit proteins that are the cause of, or exacerbate, respiratory illnesses.
“Rapid advances over the last decade have made mRNA a very promising tool for clinical application, and we are excited to collaborate with Ethris, whose advanced platform is leading in RNA delivery to the lung,” said Bahija Jallal, executive vice president of MedImmune.
“This collaboration complements our respiratory science focused on early intervention and disease modification by adding novel ways to target disease mechanisms that cannot be addressed by other approaches currently in our pipeline,” Jallal added.