Tekmira Acquires Worldwide License to Novel RNAi Technology
Tekmira and Marina Biotech Enter Into License Agreement for UNA Technology
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Nov. 29, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Tekmira
Pharmaceuticals Corporation (Nasdaq:TKMR) (TSX:TKM), a leading developer of
RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics, announced today that it has obtained a
worldwide, non-exclusive license to a novel RNAi payload technology called
Unlocked Nucleobase Analog (UNA) from Marina Biotech, Inc. (OTCQX:MRNA) for
the development of RNAi therapeutics.
UNA technology can be used in the development of RNAi therapeutics, which
treat disease by silencing specific disease causing genes. UNAs can be
incorporated into RNAi drugs and have the potential to improve them by
increasing their stability and reducing off-target effects.
"Our license to Marina's UNA technology expands and diversifies our foundation
of technologies that enable us to develop RNAi therapeutics. With Tekmira's
leading LNP delivery technology, a strong balance sheet, and access to
multiple RNAi payload technologies, we are well positioned to aggressively
advance multiple products into human clinical trials," said Dr. Mark J.
Murray, Tekmira's President and CEO.
"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," added Dr. Murray.
Under the license agreement, Tekmira has received worldwide, non-exclusive
rights to Marina Biotech's UNA technology for the development of RNAi
therapeutic products, and Marina will receive an upfront payment plus
milestone and royalty payments on products developed by Tekmira that use UNA
technology. Financial terms of the license agreement were not disclosed.
Unlocked Nucleobase Analogs (UNA) are acyclic ribonucleoside analogs in which
the bond between C2' and C3' atoms is broken. This change in sugar structure
renders this nucleoside analog very flexible. This characteristic is in
contrast to the widely used locked nucleosides that lock the sugar
conformation by a bridged bond between C2' and C4' atoms. The flexible nature
of UNA reduces the binding affinity between two strands of an RNAi drug and
gives unique characteristics to its genes silencing abilities. MARINA Biotech
has demonstrated that UNA has the potential to improve RNAi therapeutics by
increasing stability and reducing sense and antisense mediated off-target
effects while retaining potency.
About RNAi and Tekmira's LNP
RNAi therapeutics have the potential to treat a broad number of human diseases
by "silencing" disease causing genes. The discoverers of RNAi, a gene
silencing mechanism used by all cells, were awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for
Physiology or Medicine. RNAi therapeutics, such as "siRNAs," require delivery
technology to be effective systemically. Tekmira believes its LNP technology
represents the most widely adopted delivery technology for the systemic
delivery of RNAi therapeutics. Tekmira's LNP platform is being utilized in
multiple clinical trials by both Tekmira and its partners. Tekmira's LNP
technology (formerly referred to as stable nucleic acid-lipid particles or
SNALP) encapsulates siRNAs with high efficiency in uniform lipid nanoparticles
that are effective in delivering RNAi therapeutics to disease sites in
numerous preclinical models. Tekmira's LNP formulations are manufactured by a
proprietary method which is robust, scalable and highly reproducible, and
LNP-based products have been reviewed by multiple FDA divisions for use in
clinical trials. LNP formulations comprise several lipid components that can
be adjusted to suit the specific application.
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation is a biopharmaceutical company focused on
advancing novel RNAi therapeutics and providing its leading lipid nanoparticle
delivery technology to pharmaceutical partners. Tekmira has been working in
the field of nucleic acid delivery for over a decade and has broad
intellectual property covering LNPs. Further information about Tekmira can be
found at www.tekmirapharm.com. Tekmira is based in Vancouver, B.C.
The Tekmira Pharmaceuticals logo is available at
Forward-Looking Statements and Information
This news release contains "forward-looking statements" or "forward-looking
information" within the meaning of applicable securities laws (collectively,
"forward-looking statements"). Forward-looking statements are generally
identifiable by use of the words "believes," "may," "plans," "will,"
"anticipates," "intends," "budgets," "could," "estimates," "expects,"
"forecasts," "projects," and similar expressions, and the negative of such
expressions. Forward-looking statements in this news release include
statements about a worldwide non-exclusive license to UNA technology from
Marina Biotech, Inc.; the potential of UNA technology to improve RNAi
therapeutics; the use of UNA technology by Tekmira; the use of UNA technology
to lead to future development of RNAi (ribonucleic acid interference)
therapeutic products; providing pharmaceutical partners the opportunity to
license UNAs combined with Tekmira's LNP delivery technology to develop RNAi
therapeutics; delivery of upfront payment plus milestone and royalty payments
on products developed by Tekmira that use UNA technology; UNAs potential to
improve siRNA therapeutics; Tekmira's aggressive advancement of multiple
products into human clinical trials; Tekmira's strategy, future operations,
clinical trials, prospects and the plans of management; RNAi product
development programs; and expectations regarding the expansion of Tekmira's
With respect to the forward-looking statements contained in this news release,
Tekmira has made numerous assumptions regarding, among other things: LNP's
status as a leading RNAi delivery technology; Tekmira's research and
development capabilities and resources; UNA's compatibility with Tekmira's
existing LNP technology platform and other technologies; the potential for UNA
technology to improve RNAi drugs by increasing their stability and reducing
off-target effects; and the opportunity to develop product candidates using
UNA technology. While Tekmira considers these assumptions to be reasonable,
these assumptions are inherently subject to significant business, economic,
competitive, market and social uncertainties and contingencies.
Additionally, there are known and unknown risk factors which could cause
Tekmira's actual results, performance or achievements to be materially
different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or
implied by the forward-looking statements contained herein. Known risk factors
include, among others: the possibility that UNA technology does not improve
RNAi therapeutics; the possibility that UNA is not compatible with Tekmira's
LNP technology and does not result in additional product candidates being
developed by Tekmira; the possibility that pharmaceutical companies will not
license UNAs combined with Tekmira's LNP delivery technology to develop RNAi
therapeutics; the possibility that other organizations have made advancements
in RNAi delivery and payload technology that Tekmira is not aware of; and the
possibility that Tekmira may not advance any further product candidates or
expand its product pipeline.
A more complete discussion of the risks and uncertainties facing Tekmira
appears in Tekmira's annual report on Form 20-F for the year ended December
31, 2011 (Annual Report), which is available at www.sedar.com or at
www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml. All forward-looking statements herein are qualified
in their entirety by this cautionary statement, and Tekmira disclaims any
obligation to revise or update any such forward-looking statements or to
publicly announce the result of any revisions to any of the forward-looking
statements contained herein to reflect future results, events or developments,
except as required by law.
Director, Investor Relations
Longview Communications Inc.
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Logo
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