Compounds based on RNAi represent a promising new class of drugs for the targeted treatment of a number of diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Currently, however, one of the greatest challenges in developing RNAi-based therapeutics is finding ways to deliver them to their target while keeping them fully active. The joint research programme between Philips and RXi will address this challenge by exploring, in preclinical studies, the possibility of using RXi's sd-rxRNA - self-delivering rxRNA - in conjunction with Philips' ultrasound technology to achieve the targeted delivery and monitoring of RNAi-based compounds in cells.
"As part of Philips' holistic care cycle approach to patient care, we are constantly exploring novel concepts for the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of diseases. Our decision to jointly research RNAi-based therapies with RXi is driven by our belief that patient care will ultimately benefit from the combination of novel drugs and advanced medical imaging technologies", stated Henk van Houten, senior vice president of Philips Research and head of the health care research programme. "The development of ultrasound techniques that could non-invasively trigger the delivery of new drug formats such as RNAi therapeutics at a targeted location opens up exciting possibilities for advancing personalized medicine."
"The most important technological challenges that need to be addressed in order to realize the promise of RNAi-based approaches to treating various human disorders are efficient and safe delivery of the RNAi compounds to the targeted organs, and uptake of these compounds by relevant cells", stated Noah D. Beerman, President and CEO at RXi. "By combining RXi's proprietary sd-rxRNA molecules, which have unique properties of 'self delivery', and Philips' ultrasound technologies, we will be working together to achieve targeted and specific delivery to relevant organs and tissues, which could potentially boost the efficacy of RNAi-based disease treatments."
Diseases, as well as their potential cures, are associated with specific processes at a cellular and molecular level. RNAi technology is a breakthrough in understanding how genes are turned on and off and represents a new approach to drug development. Therapeutics that leverage this breakthrough technology can potentially target the cause of specific diseases by silencing harmful genes and preventing disease-causing proteins being produced.
To realize this potential, it is important to first optimize RNAi compounds in a way that confers them with the required drug properties and second to enhance their delivery to cells that express these harmful genes. RXi's proprietary rxRNA molecules are chemically modified to provide them with important properties such as stability in biological fluids, low stimulatory effect on the immune system and high target specificity. Philips' image-guided ultrasound-mediated drug delivery platform offers researchers a unique approach to investigating the delivery of various therapeutic molecules across blood vessel barriers and facilitating their uptake in cells. It capitalizes upon Philips' existing expertise in medical imaging technologies for diagnosis, therapy planning and minimally-invasive medical procedures.
Each company will contribute proprietary technologies, resources and expertise to test novel approaches for the targeted delivery of RXi's sd-rxRNA compounds in appropriate preclinical models using ultrasound-mediated drug delivery under image guidance. The preparation and research will be conducted at Philips' Life Tech research facilities at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, which are dedicated to R&D at the interface of life sciences and medical technologies, and at RXi's research and development facilities in Worcester, Massachusetts, USA.
RXi Pharmaceuticals is a discovery-stage biopharmaceutical company pursuing the development and commercialization of proprietary therapeutics based on RNA interference (RNAi) for the treatment of human diseases. RXi has a comprehensive therapeutic platform that includes both novel RNAi compounds and advanced delivery methods that can potentially be applied for local and systemic applications, against targets that may be undruggable by other modalities. RXi uses its proprietary version of RNAi compounds - rxRNA - that provide an advanced alternative to conventional small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and define the next generation of RNAi technology. These include rxRNAoriTM, rxRNAsoloTM, and sd-rxRNA (or "self-delivering" RNA), which are distinct from, and potentially convey significant advantages over, classic siRNA's. RXi Pharmaceuticals believes it is well positioned to compete successfully in the RNAi therapeutics market based on the strength of its next generation therapeutic platform, experienced management team, accomplished Scientific Advisory Board, including Dr. Craig Mello, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize for his co-discovery of RNAi, and its broad intellectual property position in RNAi chemistry and delivery.
Royal Philips Electronics of The Netherlands is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people's lives through timely innovations. As a world expert in health care, lifestyle and lighting, Philips integrates technologies and design into people-centric solutions, based on fundamental customer insights and the brand promise of "sense and simplicity". Headquartered in The Netherlands, Philips employs more than 116.000 employees in more than 60 countries worldwide. With sales of 23 billion euro in 2009, the company is a market expert in cardiac care, acute care and home health care, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as lifestyle products for personal well-being and pleasure with strong leadership positions in flat TV, male shaving and grooming, portable entertainment and oral health care. More company news is available in the New clinical study shows telehealth patients experience a significant improvement in care and quality of life.