LONDON, December 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- SR Pharma plc , Europe's leading RNAi therapeutics company, today congratulates Andrew Fire and Craig Mello on their receipt of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2006. They were presented with the prize at an award ceremony held at the Stockholm Concert Hall in Stockholm, Sweden. The Nobel Prize was awarded to Drs Fire and Mello for their ground breaking discovery in 1998 of RNA interference, the ability of double stranded RNA to silence disease relevant genes. This exciting discovery has already led to significant investment by both pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies as they seek to bring new RNAi therapeutics to the market.
RNA interference occurs naturally in plants, animals, and humans. It is of great importance for the regulation of gene expression, participates in defense against viral infections, and keeps jumping genes under control. RNA interference is already being widely used in basic science as a method to study the function of genes and there is growing confidence that with increasing industrial interest in this novel approach that new therapeutics for a broad range of indications will eventually be commercialised.
RNAi molecules have the potential to become a major new class of therapeutics based on their ability to directly and precisely silence selected genes related to disease. It is thought that these molecules could cure a broad range of diseases including cancer, infectious diseases and inherited diseases as they can be directed against disease relevant genes which can not be inhibited by currently existing drug entities. Another key advantage of RNAi therapeutic molecules is that they are much more potent than previous technologies used to block the activity of genes, meaning that that they can be used at much lower doses. Finally RNAi therapeutics are expected to have an accelerated drug discovery and development process as they both validate the gene target and act as the therapeutic agent itself. This in turn means that they are expected to benefit from longer periods of patent protection once commercialised.
SR Pharma became Europe's leading RNAi therapeutics company when it acquired the German company Atugen AG in mid 2005. Since the acquisition SR Pharma has made significant progress and has developed a number of novel, chemically modified, proprietary siRNA molecules ("AtuRNAi"), which have advantages over conventional siRNA molecules including enhanced stability against nuclease degradation. In addition, the company has developed a proprietary delivery system ("AtuPLEX"), which increases bioavailability, circulation times and functional intracellular uptake of RNAi molecules. SR Pharma believes that this liposomal-based delivery system will be of increasing importance as it moves its products into indications, which require systemic delivery. The company expects to begin clinical development of its first AtuRNAi therapeutic molecules for systemic cancer indications in 2007.
SR Pharma also has AtuRNAi compounds partnered with Quark Biotech and Pfizer, which are anticipated to enter clinical trials shortly.
SR Pharma is a licensee to the umbrella patent 6,506,559 covering the genetic inhibition by double-stranded RNA granted to Fire and Mello in January 2003.
Iain Ross, Executive Chairman of SR Pharma, said: "Today is a historic day for the rapidly emerging field of RNAi therapy. The fact that Drs Fire and Mello have received their Nobel Prize only after eight years reflects the importance of their ground breaking scientific discovery. All of the team at SR Pharma would like to extend our congratulations to Andrew Fire and Craig Mello. SR Pharma will continue to focus on developing our unique RNAi molecules, in combination with our proprietary delivery system, and we believe we are well positioned to make an important contribution to the new wave of RNAi therapeutics that this exciting approach to gene silencing promises to deliver."
SR Pharma (www.srpharma.com)
SR Pharma plc is a European biopharmaceutical company, listed on AIM. The Company has two operating subsidiaries Atugen AG (www.atugen.com) based in Berlin, Germany and Stanford Rook Ltd based in London, UK.
SR Pharma is a world leader in RNAi therapeutics, which is a Nobel Prize winning technology that "silences" genes linked to the onset of disease. The Company has developed novel, chemically modified proprietary siRNA molecules ("AtuRNAi"), which have a number of advantages over conventional siRNA molecules including enhanced stability against nuclease degradation. In addition, the Company has developed a proprietary delivery system ("AtuPLEX"), which increases bioavailability, circulation times and functional intracellular uptake of siRNA molecules.
SR Pharma has lead AtuRNAi compounds partnered with Quark Biotech and Pfizer, which are anticipated to enter clinical trials shortly. SR Pharma also expects to begin the clinical development of its own AtuRNAi therapeutic molecules for systemic cancer indications in 2007.
In addition, SR Pharma owns a proprietary Mycobacterium vaccae-based technology and related products. Currently the Company is in discussions with third parties regarding the co-development and out-licensing of these products.
This press release includes forward-looking statements that are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors. These risks and uncertainties could cause actual results to differ materially from those referred to in the forward-looking statements. All forward-Ã‚Âlooking statements are based on information currently available to SR Pharma and SR Pharma assumes no obligation to update any such forward-looking statements.
SR Pharma plc
CONTACT: Enquiries: For further information, please contact the following:SR Pharma plc, +44(0)20-7307-1620, Iain Ross, Chairman, Melvyn Davies,Finance Director, Citigate Dewe Rogerson, +44(0)20-7638-9571, David Dible,Valerie Auffray, Yvonne Alexander, Atugen AG, +49(0)30-9489-2800, ThomasChristely, Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Klaus Giese, Chief ScientificOfficer