MDRNA, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA), a leading RNAi-based drug discovery and development company, today announced that the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) has issued a Notice of Acceptance for patent application 553828, titled "Methods of Treating an Inflammatory Disease by Double-Stranded Ribonucleic Acid."
Allowed claims cover small interfering RNAs (siRNA) directed against the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) gene as well as several of the Company's key nucleic acid condensing and delivery peptide motifs in combination with a siRNA directed against TNF. This patent application was filed in 2005 as part of MDRNA's global intellectual property strategy which comprises a broad comprehensive patent portfolio protecting the Company's proprietary siRNA constructs, nucleic acid chemistry, nucleic acid delivery platforms, and its extensive library of siRNAs directed against therapeutic targets.
"The TNF family of cytokines includes some of the most validated targets in drug development and the ability to inhibit a specific member such as TNF-alpha remains a key therapeutic approach for many diseases," stated Barry Polisky, Chief Scientific Officer of MDRNA. "Highly potent siRNAs that inhibit TNF may have direct application in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and other inflammatory conditions. Efficient delivery to specific cell types involved in these diseases is critical and the peptides protected under this patent provide a basis upon which we can modify our DiLA2 technology to specifically target TNF producing cells."
TNF-alpha (TNF-á) is the most studied member of the TNF family of cytokines. First described as a factor that causes necrosis (death) of tumor cells, subsequent research revealed TNF-á plays a key role within the immune system. TNF-á is produced by cells in blood and most tissues, and virtually all cells respond to TNF-á. It is the role that TNF-á plays in mediating chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn's disease, that has been the focus of drug development efforts. Besides attaining blockbuster status in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, TNF inhibitors (e.g., Enbrel® and Remicade®) have revealed a potential role in multiple diseases. The ability to deliver a TNF-á siRNA to specific cells involved in inflammatory diseases and cancer provides a unique opportunity for an RNAi-based therapeutic.
"One of our main objectives in building an industry-leading RNAi company is to develop a patent portfolio that is both comprehensive and distinct from other RNAi companies," stated Mark Bales, Ph.D., Intellectual Property Counsel at MDRNA. "We believe this allowance demonstrates that MDRNA has a leading position in the field of RNAi therapeutics and that it is an excellent addition to our growing patent estate. We expect to receive additional similar allowances globally that will expand the breadth of our patent estate and further distinguish MDRNA as a leader in the RNAi field."