SYDNEY, June 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Benitec Biopharma (ASX: BLT; OTCPK: BTEBD) is pleased to announce the launch of a new exploratory cellular therapy program including exosome-based delivery utilising the Company's proprietary ddRNAi technology. Entry into these areas have been facilitated by the commencement of a collaboration with UK-based stem cell therapeutics company, ReNeuron. The program aims to utilise Benitec's ddRNAi technology to address serious diseases using derived exosomes as delivery agents. This announcement follows promising initial data that has been generated in work performed at both companies indicating the feasibility of this approach.
Benitec and ReNeuron have completed a series of in vitro experiments that demonstrate that stem cells transduced with ddRNAi-expression constructs produce exosomes that are effective at delivering expressed shRNAs to target (cancer) cells and to knock down a specific gene in those cells. The data also indicated that ReNeuron's stem cells could be more effective than mesenchymal stem cells for this purpose. Whilst preliminary, these results could open the potential for both companies' platform technologies to be extended into a wide range of new therapeutic applications.
Benitec's Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Peter French, commented, "We are delighted to be extending our research collaboration with ReNeuron. The application of ddRNAi to stem cells and derived exosomes represents a unique combination of stem cell biology, gene therapy and gene silencing. It opens up a wide array of possibilities for extending the utility of core technologies from both companies for application into new therapeutic areas. Having ReNeuron as a collaborator on this approach increases the chances of success as their knowledge of stem cell science coupled with their unique therapeutic platforms are tremendous assets in this area."
ReNeuron's Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Olav Hellebo, said, "It is exciting to be working with Benitec to explore the potential of our technology as a delivery system for Benitec's unique gene silencing technology targeting drug resistant cancers. Benitec's extensive knowledge of expressed RNA interference is invaluable in this novel approach. Whilst the work is at an early stage we are committed to developing the program in conjunction with Benitec to determine the optimal design and use of therapeutics deploying this promising and highly novel technology combination."
Benitec has appointed Mr. Bob Atwill, Senior Vice President Cellular Therapies, to progress this and other potential opportunities in cellular and immunotherapies, such as ddRNAi-modified CAR-T cells. Mr Atwill has extensive experience in the stem cell industry and was the former CEO of the Regenerative Medicine Division of Allied Healthcare Group, now Admedus.
ReNeuron is a leading, clinical-stage cell therapy development business. Based in the UK, its primary objective is the development of novel cell-based therapies targeting areas of significant unmet or poorly met medical need.
ReNeuron has used its unique stem cell technologies to develop cell-based therapies for significant disease conditions where the cells can be readily administered "off-the-shelf" to any eligible patient without the need for additional immunosuppressive drug treatments. The Company's therapeutic candidates for stroke disability and critical limb ischaemia are already in clinical development and its cell-based treatment for the blindness causing disease, retinitis pigmentosa, is about to enter the clinic in the US.
ReNeuron is also advancing a proprietary platform technology to exploit nanoparticles (exosomes) secreted by stem cells as potential new drug candidates targeting a range of indications including cancer.
ReNeuron's shares are traded on the London AIM market under the symbol RENE.L. Further information on ReNeuron and its products can be found at www.reneuron.com.
About Benitec Biopharma Limited:
Benitec Biopharma Limited is an ASX-listed biotechnology company (ASX: BLT; OTCPK: BTEBD), which has developed a patented gene-silencing technology called ddRNAi or 'expressed RNAi'. Based in Sydney, Australia with labs in Hayward CA (USA) and collaborators and licensees around the world, the company is developing ddRNAi-based therapeutics for chronic and life-threatening human conditions including Hepatitis C and B, drug resistant lung cancer and wet Age-related Macular Degeneration. Benitec has also licensed ddRNAi to other biopharmaceutical companies for applications including HIV/AIDS, Huntington's Disease, chronic neuropathic pain and retinitis pigmentosa. For further information regarding Benitec and its activities, please contact the persons below, or visit the Benitec website at www.benitec.com.