Santaris Pharma announces expanded worldwide strategic alliance with Pfizer

Goal is development of RNA-targeted Medicines, with Pfizer paying $14 million to access Santaris platform and Santaris potentially getting $600 million in milestones as a result

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HOERSHOLM, Denmark and SAN DIEGO—Santaris Pharma A/S, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the research and development of mRNA and microRNA targeted therapies has announced an expansion of collaboration efforts with Pfizer Inc. that is directed toward the development and commercialization of RNA-targeted medicines using Santaris Pharma A/S Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) Drug Platform

To gain access to the LNA Drug Platform, Pfizer is making a payment of $14 million and in return, Santarisis eligible to receive milestone payments of as much as $600 million in addition to royalties on sales of products that may develop for up to 10 new RNA targets selected by Pfizer.

This expanded collaboration actually dates back to relationship Santaris has with Wyeth and builds on an alliance with that company that was formed in January 2009 before Pfizer acquired Wyeth for $68 billion. Under the terms of the original collaboration, Santaris Pharma received an upfront payment of $7 million in cash and Wyeth made a $10 million equity investment in Santaris. Santaris continues to be eligible to receive milestones and royalties under the original alliance.

"The expansion of our collaboration with Santaris Pharma A/S demonstrates our strategic intention to partner with innovative biopharm/biotech companies to explore novel drug design technologies as a potential source for breakthrough therapeutics," says Mikael Dolsten, president of worldwide research and development at Pfizer. "We have been encouraged by the progress of our oligonucleotide collaboration with Santaris Pharma and are eager to explore this expanded partnership for potential additional LNA-based drug projects."

The Santaris Pharma A/S LNA Drug Platform is reportedly the only RNA technology with both mRNA- and microRNA-targeted drugs in clinical trials, which the two companies say demonstrates the broad utility of the proprietary platform. The unique combination of small size and high affinity achievable with Santaris Pharma A/S LNA technology allows LNA-based drugs to potently and specifically inhibit RNA targets in different tissues without the need for complex delivery vehicles, they add.

"The expanded alliance with Pfizer is a result of our successful collaboration over the last two years and provides further evidence that our LNA Drug Platform is rapidly becoming the technology-of-choice for partners interested in developing RNA-targeted medicines," says Soeren Tulstrup, president and CEO of Santaris Pharma. "The LNA Drug Platform is well-positioned to deliver viable drug candidates today, and we are excited to expand our relationship with Pfizer to pursue our goal of making  RNA-targeted drugs for important diseases a reality."

Typically, RNA-targeted therapies come in two varieties, Tulstrup notes: single-stranded approaches, often referred to as antisense, and double-stranded approaches that are often referred to as siRNA. The LNA Drug Platform, which uses Santaris Pharma's proprietary single-stranded LNA chemistry,  may provide the key to delivering on the promise of RNA-targeted therapies today by overcoming the limitation of earlier antisense and siRNA technologies, he adds.

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