Biocon and Quark Pharmaceuticals Collaborate to Develop Novel siRNA Based
BANGALORE, India and FREMONT, Calif., Dec. 18, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Biocon
Ltd, Asia's premier biotechnology company, and Quark Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a
world leader in the discovery and development of siRNA-based therapeutics,
announced today that they have entered into a Licensing & Collaboration
agreement for the development of a range of siRNA (small interfering RNA)
based novel therapeutics.
This collaboration will enable Biocon to co-develop, manufacture &
commercialize QPI-1007, a novel siRNA drug candidate for ophthalmic
conditions, for India and other key markets.
Biocon will have access to Quark's innovative and proprietary siRNA technology
platform that can be leveraged for the development of novel therapeutics for
various unmet medical needs.
QPI-1007 is being developed for ocular neuroprotection in NAION (non-arteritic
anterior ischemic optic neuropathy) and acute angle closure glaucoma. It has
completed a phase I/IIa first in human, open label, single-dose, dose
escalation, safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetic study conducted at 16
centers in the USA and 5 centers in Israel. The study showed QPI-1007 was safe
and exhibits strong neuroprotective activity in NAION patients.
Glaucoma is a slowly progressing optic neuropathy characterized by the
progressive loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and is the leading cause of
blindness worldwide. The nerve damage and visual loss from glaucoma is usually
irreversible. Neuroprotection has been proposed as a therapeutic strategy in
glaucoma to promote survival of retinal ganglion cells.
In India, it is estimated that glaucoma affects 12 million people accounting
for 12.8% of the country's blindness and by 2020, this is expected to reach 16
million. Population-based studies report a prevalence between 2% to 13% in
India, and more than 90% of glaucoma in the community is undiagnosed.
Statistics say 1 in 8 persons above the age of 40 years in India is either
suffering from glaucoma or is at risk of the disease. Over 2.5 million people
are detected with primary angle closure glaucoma. Glaucoma can affect any age
group, including newborns, infants, children and elderly. (Source: Glaucoma
society of India, Research paper SankaraNethralya)
Commenting on this development Ms Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairperson & Managing
Director, Biocon, said: "We are very excited to partner with Quark to develop
novel and promising siRNA therapeutics. Quark is the world leader in this
technology and our joint development efforts on QPI-1007, targeting ocular
neuroprotection aims at providing relief to several patients suffering from
serious ophthalmic conditions. This collaboration reinforces our commitment to
develop and introduce innovative therapeutics to India to meet the unmet
medical needs. We hope to use this technology for developing several other
"We are very pleased to collaborate with Biocon Limited, a pioneer in
biopharmaceuticals. It is the only Indian company to develop several difficult
to make biologics and biosimilars and has provided affordable healthcare
solutions for the patients in India and other markets. We believe siRNA is
going to make a very important impact in the field of pharmaceuticals
discovery and development. We are hopeful that this collaboration will
position Biocon as the leading siRNA company in India and as an international
player in this new drug category," said Daniel Zurr, Ph.D., CEO, QuarkPharma.
An expert team of scientists from Quark and Biocon will jointly work on the
development of QPI-1007, and the additional novel pipeline, leveraging the
siRNA innovative technology.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Notes to the Editor:
RNAi technology is used to interfere with the expression of a specific gene.
RNA interference (RNAi) has broad potential as a therapeutic to reversibly
silence any gene. To achieve the clinical potential of RNAi, delivery
materials are required to transport short interfering RNA (siRNA) to the site
of action in the cells of target tissues.
About QPI-1007 QPI-1007 is a synthetic siRNA designed to temporarily inhibit
expression of the pro-apoptotic protein, Caspase 2. QPI-1007 utilizes a novel
siRNA structure developed by Quark that preserves activity while attenuating
off-target and immunostimulatory effects. QPI-1007 is being developed as a
neuroprotectant for the treatment of non-arteritic ischemic optic neuropathy
(NAION) and potentially other optic neuropathies such as glaucoma that result
in the death of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs).
Apoptosis (programmed cell death) is thought to be the main cause of the death
of retinal ganglion cells. Quark believes that QPI-1007 may be an effective
neuroprotective agent, with potential use in NAION and also in major diseases
involving retinal ganglion cell loss, including glaucoma.
Established in 1978, Biocon Limited, (BSE code: 532523, NSE Id: BIOCON, ISIN
Id: INE376G01013) is India's largest and Asia's leading biotechnology company
with a strategic focus on biopharmaceuticals and research services. It is a
fully integrated, innovation-driven biopharma enterprise offering affordable
solutions for chronic diseases to patients worldwide. Biocon's robust product
portfolio includes the world's first Pichia-based recombinant human Insulin,
INSUGEN®, Glargine, BASALOG® and India's first biologic BioMAb-EGFR ™ for head
& neck cancer. It has now successfully developed its second novel biologic
Itolizumab, a 'first in class' anti-CD6 monoclonal antibody, introduced as
Alzumab™ for psoriasis in India, in 2013.
For additional information, please visit: www.biocon.com
About Quark Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Quark Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the world leader in novel RNAi discovery and
development, has the largest clinical-stage siRNA pipeline in the industry.
The Company's fully integrated drug development platform spans therapeutic
target identification to drug development. Quark's approach to delivery allows
targeting of tissues and organs including the eye, kidney, ear, lung, skin,
spinal cord and brain.
Quark has a rich pipeline of siRNA drug candidates in six different
indications, which completed proof of concept in a variety of animal models
conducted by renowned opinion leaders. It has three product candidates in
clinical development in five different indications of which four are in phase
II and one in phase IIb.
Quark is headquartered in Fremont, California and operates research and
development facilities in Boulder, Colorado and Ness-Ziona, Israel.
For additional information, please visit: www.quarkpharma.com
Quark Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
For Media & Investor Relations
+972 89 30 5111
Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.