UGent spin-off company Biogazelle announced their collaboration with Isis pharmaceuticals. Being the leading company in the development of pharmaceutical products directed towards RNA targets, Isis is the ideal partner for Biogazelle. In this collaboration, Biogazelle will identify and validate potential RNA targets for a variety of cancers.
Targeting coding or non-coding RNA is a treatment strategy which is receiving increasingly more attention from the biotech industry. By using antisense drugs, DNA- or RNA-like molecules with high specificity, complementary RNA associated with a certain disease is degraded. In the case of mRNA, this prevents the synthesis of aberrant, disease-causing proteins.
A new class of RNA molecules, long non-coding RNA or lncRNA, presents an entirely new domain in which antisense drugs can be applied. While lncRNA's do not code for proteins, they serve a regulatory function, controlling the expression of genes and translation of mRNA's. By tweaking gene expression through the targeting of lncRNA's, genetic errors leading to disease can be silenced.
In the Biogazelle-Isis collaboration, Biogazelle will identify relevant lncRNA targets for colon, liver and lung cancer, diseases with unmet clinical needs. After the validation of these targets, Isis can then start the development of new RNA-targeting drugs for the treatment of these severe diseases.