Arrowhead has established a robust and versatile drug discovery and development platform based on proprietary technologies, broad licenses to fundamental intellectual property and extensive scientific expertise after more than a decade working on RNAi-based therapies. This platform, which has been validated across multiple clinical trials, enables the company to develop effective new therapies rapidly, cost effectively and potentially with lower risk relative to traditional approaches.
One of the most important recent advances in biology, the discovery of RNA interference, or RNAi, led to a Nobel Prize in 2006. RNAi refers to a natural cellular mechanism whereby short oligonucleotide molecules called RNAi triggers silence gene expression and regulate the production of proteins. Arrowhead’s RNAi-based therapeutics leverage this natural pathway of gene silencing to target and shut down specific genes that cause disease. This mechanism offers many potential advantages in the development of disease therapies, including the ability to target a broad range of genes and proteins with high specificity, and also target disease pathways that have proven difficult to address with traditional small molecule and biologic therapeutics.
This figure depicts the mechanism by which gene silencing occurs. Double stranded RNAi triggers are introduced into a cell and get loaded into the RNA-induced silencing complex, or RISC. The strands are separated leaving an active RISC/RNAi trigger complex. This complex can then pair with and degrade the complementary messenger RNAs, or mRNA, and stop the production of the target proteins. RNAi is a catalytic process, so each RNAi trigger can degrade mRNA hundreds of times, which results in a relatively long duration of effect for RNAi therapeutics.
The Dynamic Polyconjugates™ (DPC™) Platform and Delivery Technologies
A primary challenge in the development of RNAi therapeutics is delivering the fragile, potentially immunogenic, and otherwise rapidly cleared RNAi trigger molecules, into the cytoplasm of the cell where RNAi activity occurs. DPCs™ are Arrowhead’s innovative delivery system engineered specifically to induce efficient endosomal escape, which is the most important differentiating feature of the proprietary technology. The DPC™ platform has demonstrated rapid, deep and durable knockdown of target genes expressed in the liver and has been well tolerated in clinical trials.
Developed by Arrowhead scientists, the inspiration for DPC™ technology came from the physical characteristics of viruses, which are very efficient at finding their target cells and delivering their nucleic acid payload to the proper cellular compartment. Key features of the DPCs™ are their small size, their overall negative surface charge, their specificity for particular cell types and their ability to disassemble once inside a cell and release RNAi triggers into the cytoplasm. Arrowhead has also demonstrated a proprietary delivery construct that can be delivered by subcutaneous injection.
In addition to DPCs™ targeted to liver cells, Arrowhead is developing a DPC™ that actively targets tissues outside of the liver. DPC™ for extra-hepatic delivery comprises a membrane active polymer to promote RNAi trigger endosomal release, reversible masking to prevent polymer activity prior to cellular uptake, an active ligand that binds to αVβ3 integrin, which is highly expressed on the surface of various tumor cell types and an RNAi trigger conjugated directly to the DPC™. The ability to target tissues outside of the liver, including tumors, opens many opportunities for Arrowhead to develop RNAi therapeutics for diseases in which the medical need is great.
Arrowhead is continually improving and refining its delivery technology providing us with an opportunity to develop RNAI therapies to address a wide variety of indications.
RNA Interference Chemistries
The structure and chemistries of the oligonucleotide molecules used to trigger the RNAi mechanism can be tailored for optimal activity. Arrowhead has access to the broadest portfolio of RNA trigger structures and chemistries, including some proprietary structures, which enables the company to optimize each drug candidate on a target-by-target basis and utilize the combination of structure and chemical modifications that yield the most potent RNAi trigger.
Our intellectual property portfolio provides broad freedom to apply multiple RNAi delivery technologies, chemistries, structures and manufacturing techniques in the development of novel therapeutics. Access to a broad range of technologies allows us to choose the best approach for a wide range of gene targets and disease indications.
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