Isis Pharmaceuticals and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals--two leaders in the hot fieldÂ of RNA--have teamed up to form Regulus Therapeutics, a company that will focus on developing new drugs based on micro-RNA. Micro-RNA is one of two types of RNA interference found in all human cells and affects how genes are turned off and on. MiRNAs regulate whole networks of genes; therefore therapeutics based on this technology represent a new approach to target the pathways of disease, according to the companies.
Both companies will grant Regulus licenses to their IP for miRNA therapeutic applications, as well as certain early fundamental patents in the miRNA field. Alnylam will make an initial investment of $10 million to balance venture ownership; thereafter Isis and Alnylam will share funding of Regulus. Regulus will be operated as an independent company with an independent Board of Directors and management team, which will include Nobel laureate David Baltimore.
"The emerging biology of microRNAs points to a completely new understanding of cellular mechanisms for regulation of gene expression," noted Baltimore. "I believe that microRNAs represent previously unexplored disease targets where pharmacological approaches could lead to the emergence of novel therapies for many human disorders. "
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