Marina Biotech pins new hopes on patents for RNAi revival

If not for a delivery problem, gene-silencing siRNA therapy would be much closer to reality inside the clinic today. Marina Biotech ($MRNA) of Bothell, WA, which develops RNAi-based compounds and drug delivery technologies, believes it has an answer in just-granted patents covering its peptides.

"A primary advantage of this patented peptide library is the ability to rapidly screen and identify novel peptides that exhibit cell specific targeting characteristics for directed delivery of nucleic acid therapeutics," Barry Polisky, chief scientific officer at Marina, told In-PharmaTechnologist. "Delivery remains a significant challenge in the nucleic acid therapeutic space, and peptides with high affinity and specificity are expected to be a fundamental component to developing delivery approaches to a wide spectrum of tissues and cell types."

The company is pinning some significant amount of hope onto these new patents, as impatient investors are wondering whatever happened to the original promise of gene-silencing therapies. They must not have read the science-development handbook that says it takes about 20 years for new medical technology to move from lab to clinic.

Last year, Marina Biotech acquired the rights to a technology called called "Smarticles," which involves liposomes that can cross cell membranes to deliver to the target and engage the RNA interference pathway. It can also change its surface electric charge to drop off its payload. The new peptides are applicable to the Smarticles platform, In-PharmaTechnologist reports.

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