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Crossing their Ts
AUSTIN, Texas—Bioo Therapeutics and Texas Tech University have entered into a collaboration to suppress the progression of HIV using a targeted RNAi.
Dr. Premlata Shankar, professor and co-director of the Center of Excellence of Infectious Disease Research at Texas Tech University, has developed RNAi-based treatment methods for HIV infection and is participating in the collaborative research effort with Bioo Therapeutics, a division of Bioo Scientific, to leverage its T3 technology to facilitate the targeted delivery of siRNA into T cells.
According to Dr. Lance Ford, vice president of research and business development for Bioo Scientific, the research teams led by Shankar and Dr. Manjunath N. Swamy, also from Texas Tech's Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, consist of talented scientists with a strong sense of the future of RNAi delivery and therapeutics.
"They have already demonstrated that siRNA can be used to control the spread of HIV among cells in an animal model," he says. "Now, they are working with Bioo Therapeutics' proprietary T3 technology to progress targeted RNAi delivery for HIV and a number of cancers."
Ford points out that the terms are very typical for research collaborations within the biotechnology space and include definitions for joint intellectual property, a collaborative research program and research results.
"We have the ability to freely transfer materials in order to meet the research objectives," he notes.
Shankar has already successfully used RNAi to dramatically suppress HIV infection in mice by knocking down three key genes, preventing the HIV infection from spreading.
Ford notes that using Bioo Scientific's T3 technology will allow Shankar to precisely target the siRNAs in vivo into T cells, although it can be used to target any cell type. The patent-pending T3 technology functions by conjugating an RNAi agent carrier to a monoclonal antibody to produce a conjugate, which is then loaded with an RNAi agent such as siRNA or miRNA molecules.
"I am delighted to join forces with Bioo Scientific in the development of an advanced, monoclonal antibody-based technology for targeted delivery of siRNA to T cells and potentially other cell types," Shankar says. "By combining our scientific expertise and resources, we can speed up the development of robust enabling platforms for efficient delivery to desired cells and tissues in vivo, which is critical for translating siRNAs into a novel class of drugs to treat human diseases."
Ford says Bioo Therapeutics, a division of Bioo Scientific, was developed to leverage its proprietary drug delivery vehicles and extensive experience in antibody and small-molecule research to develop therapeutic agents to combat cancer and other diseases.
"Bioo Therapeutics will benefit from this alliance in a number of ways," he points out. "If Dr. Shankar's team is successful in developing an RNAi-based therapeutic incorporating the T3 technology to replace the harsh drug cocktails currently prescribed to patients with HIV, it will greatly increase our brand value while strengthening the T3 product portfolio."
In addition, Ford notes that this research also serves as an outside validation of the T3 technology.
"If the analysis of the newly developed T3 delivery vehicles proves successful, it will allow Bioo Therapeutics to engage other researchers trying to optimize targeted delivery of siRNA for pharmaceutical applications," he says.
Ultimately, there are a number of ways that the success of this collaboration can be measured, says Ford.
"Of course, it would be ideal if this relationship lead to the successful development of an anti-HIV siRNA-based drug," notes Ford. "However, there are other factors which we are also using as criteria for defining success. These include the strengthening of our IP position and the optimization of the chemistry used to develop the T3 carriers."