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Posted: September 8, 2008

National Cancer Institute Presents Promising Data Treating Liver Cancer Using siRNA

(Nanowerk News) Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation (TSX:TKM) announced today that one of its collaborators, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), has presented promising pre-clinical data treating liver cancer using small interfering RNA (siRNA) enabled by Tekmira's SNALP (stable nucleic acid-lipid particles) delivery technology.
Dr. Yun-Han Lee, a member of the NCI's Laboratory of Experimental Carcinogenesis (LEC), presented the data at the International Liver Cancer Association (ILCA) meeting being held in Chicago, IL September 5-7, 2008.
Scientists at the LEC and the Surgery Branch of the NCI worked in collaboration with Tekmira scientists to develop siRNA to silence the CSN5 gene. The CSN5 siRNA delivered systemically using Tekmira's SNALP technology resulted in a significant reduction in tumor burden in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tumor bearing mice.
CSN5 could represent a novel therapeutic target to treat HCC. Down regulation of CSN5 using siRNA increases apoptosis (programmed cell death) by restoring levels of tumor suppressor proteins p53 and p27. Silencing the CSN5 gene has also been shown to decrease a certain population of cells thought to be cancer stem cells. Research suggests that it is critical to destroy this population of cancer stem cells within a tumor to prevent the re-growth of the tumor.
Dr. Mark J. Murray, Tekmira's President and CEO, said, "We have had a very successful collaboration with NCI over the past two years. By combining their expertise in identifying novel cancer genes and our expertise in designing and delivering siRNA molecules, we have been able to generate this promising data targeting the CSN5 gene."
Tekmira and NCI are continuing to collaborate on identifying novel cancer genes and demonstrating anti-tumor activity by silencing these genes through RNA interference.
Presentation at Charles River Biotech Symposium
In addition to the NCI presentation at the ILCA meeting, Tekmira is also presenting data at the Charles River Biotech Symposium (CRBS). Dr. Ian MacLachlan, Tekmira's Chief Scientific Officer, is presenting at CRBS September 9, 2008.
Dr. MacLachlan's presentation will focus on Tekmira's advancement of its SNALP delivery technology and its chemical modification technology that can minimize the immune stimulatory effects of siRNA. Tekmira's SNALP technology is designed to overcome the challenges of systemic delivery of siRNA by designing lipid nanoparticles with the appropriate characteristics to deliver siRNA to target tissues and into cells.
Tekmira's first two product candidates, ApoB SNALP and PLK1 SNALP, are based on its SNALP technology. Tekmira has also licensed its SNALP technology to leading industry partners including Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALNY), Roche (SWX:ROG) and Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK). Alnylam has also provided access to Tekmira's technology to certain of its partners, including Regulus Therapeutics and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited.
About RNAi and SNALP
RNAi drugs have the potential to treat human diseases by "switching-off" disease causing genes. The technology, representing one of the most promising and rapidly advancing frontiers in biology and drug discovery, was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. RNAi drugs, such as siRNA, require delivery technology to be administered systemically. In preclinical studies, Tekmira's SNALP (stable nucleic acid-lipid particles) technology has been shown to be a safe and effective way to deliver RNAi drugs to disease sites. Tekmira believes it has a leading intellectual property position in the field of siRNA delivery.
About Tekmira
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation is a biopharmaceutical company focused on advancing novel RNAi products and providing its leading lipid nanoparticle delivery technology to pharmaceutical partners. Further information about Tekmira can be found at www.tekmirapharm.com. Tekmira is based in Vancouver, B.C.
Source: Tekmira (press release)
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