MiRacle Consortium led by InteRNA Technologies and VU University Medical Center

4 November, 2013

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Therapeutic development of cancer cell-specific targeting of novel tumor-selective lethal miRNAs for the treatment of head and neck cancer – acronym: MiRacle

Nijmegen/Utrecht and Amsterdam (the Netherlands) -InteRNA Technologies B.V., the Dutch biopharma company engaged in the development of microRNA (miRNA)-based therapeutics for oncology, and VU University Medical Center (VUmc) announce today they have been granted funding from the European Union’s FP7program “Research for the benefit of SMEs”. InteRNA and VUmc, who are leading this consortium, together with Quiet Therapeutics Ltd (Israel), a biopharma SME engaged in the development of a new class of highly selective targeted therapeutics for oncology and inflammation, have been granted around € 1.2 million, to develop the targeted delivery of novel tumor-selective lethal miRNAs for the treatment of head and neck cancer. The consortium further includes BioSpring (Germany), OctoPlus (the Netherlands) and the Laboratory of Pharmacology and Toxicology LPT (Germany).

MiRacle focuses on the development of a targeted therapeutic formulation for the treatment of head and neck cancer. Head and neck (H&N) cancer is the sixth most common cancer worldwide and the incidence increases. Unfortunately the majority of H&N cancer patients present with advanced stages of disease. These patients frequently develop locoregional recurrences, distant metastasis and/or second primary tumors resulting in 5-years survival rates of less than 60% The development of novel anti-cancer agents to improve outcome is therefore urgently awaited.
The goal of MiRacle is the advancement of the safe, targeted delivery of therapeutic tumor-selective lethal miRNA formulation towards the clinic by combining two innovative technologies, i.e. application of therapeutic miRNAs using cancer cell-specific targeted drug delivery.
Besides the expertise on the therapeutic application of miRNA and the in depth knowledge of the therapeutic indication, e.g. H&N cancer, the MiRacle consortium brings together the knowledge on the synthesis of biochemical active miRNAs, the expertise in drug formulation to specifically deliver therapeutic miRNA into humans, the understanding for synthesis of complex drug formulations, the preclinical testing, and the skillfulness in toxicity tests that are required for RNA based drug registration.

“The unique tumor-selective lethal miRNAs identified display a very interesting biology and potential therapeutic effect that warrants further development towards the clinic.
This FP7 grant exemplifies that with this consortium we have all the expertise in place to bring a tumor killing miRNA in a targeted and safe manner towards registration for first in human testing”, said Roel Schaapveld, Chief Executive Officer of InteRNA Technologies.

“This FP7 grant enables the next step in the translation of the tumor-selective lethal microRNAs that we discovered” said Ruud Brakenhof, Professor of Cancer Genetics, Tumor Biology Section at the Department of Otolaryngology/Head-Neck Surgery of VUmc.