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Surf’s up for microRNAs
LA JOLLA, Calif.—Regulus Therapeutics, a developer of microRNA therapies, has formed a research collaboration with the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) to develop microRNA therapies that work to block new blood vessel formation, or anti-angiogenesis, as a way to treat various diseases.
While financial terms of the deal aren't being disclosed, the work is being supported by a UC Discovery Grant. The collaborative research program recently received the grant, which promotes collaborations between the university's researchers and industry partners.
The research will combine Regulus' miRNA platform with UCSD's expertise in animal models of angiogenesis to discover anti-angiogenic miRNA-targeted therapies that could be rapidly translated for treatment of human disease.
Dr. Hubert C. Chen, Regulus' vice president of translational medicine, says the company is "pleased to collaborate with leading scientific institutes like UCSD and to provide industry support for programs such as the UC Discovery Grant."
According to Zachary Zimmerman, director of business development at Regulus Therapeutics, from its inception, the company has maintained an active external research effort with leading academic laboratories across the globe with the aim to advance the understanding of microRNA biology and increase knowledge around miRNA therapeutic opportunities.
"Our network of nearly 30 academic collaborations has resulted in numerous discoveries, publications in high-profile journals, as well as new breakthroughs in microRNA therapeutic strategies," he says. "Regulus' strategic location in La Jolla, Calif., known as 'biotech beach,' provides close proximity to leading institutions including UCSD, Scripps, Salk, Sanford-Burnham and others."
Zimmerman explains that angiogenesis, which is the formation of new blood vessels, is an important event that contributes to the severity of cancer, diabetes, macular degeneration, inflammatory disease and arthritis. He notes that miRNAs have been implicated in regulating biological networks involved in angiogenesis.
David A. Cheresh, professor of pathology in the UCSD School of Medicine, associate director for translational research at UCSD Moores Cancer Center and principal investigator on the grant, said last year's research demonstrated that miRNA-132 functions as a novel angiogenic switch that turns on angiogenesis in quiescent endothelial cells, and that targeting with an anti-miR-132 decreases blood vessel formation.
Regulus was established in September 2007 by Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Isis Pharmaceuticals to develop miRNA therapeutics against multiple diseases. The firm's preclinical pipeline includes both in-house and partnered programs targeting fibrosis, HCV, immune-related diseases, metabolism and cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
"Regulus continues to demonstrate a leadership position in the field of microRNA therapeutics and is committed to forging partnerships with leading academic laboratories to advance microRNA biology and therapeutic discovery," Zimmerman says. "The collaborative program between Regulus and UCSD, supported by the UC Discovery Grant program, supports cutting-edge research, strengthening the state's economy and serving the public good. Another goal of the exploratory research is to produce another high-quality, top-tier publication."
In another project, Regulus Therapeutics announced the presentation of new preclinical data from its cardiovascular and metabolic disease program, performed in collaboration with scientists at New York University and Wake Forest University.
Data was presented at the American Heart Association's Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology 2011 Scientific Sessions, held April 28-30 in Chicago.