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The research collaboration between AstraZeneca and VaxEquity aims to discover and develop self-amplifying RNA therapeutics.
AstraZeneca announced on Sept. 23, 2021, that it had entered into a research collaboration with VaxEquity, a biotechnology company founded by Imperial College London that focuses on self-amplifying RNA (saRNA). The goal of this collaboration is to work toward the discovery, development, and commercialization of the proprietary saRNA therapeutics platform developed by Imperial College London.
According to an AstraZeneca press release, saRNA is a platform for the development of medicines and vaccines that is similar to mRNA. Where the two differ is that saRNA has the ability to self-amplify, which allows it to express proteins for longer periods of time, ultimately resulting in higher protein levels per dose level. This difference may allow saRNA’s to be delivered at lower concentrations than mRNA therapeutics, which broadens the range of potential applications while also lowering dosing requirements, frequency, and costs.
AstraZeneca will support VaxEquity with research and development funding. Should AstraZeneca advance any of the research programs into its pipeline, VaxEquity could achieve milestones totaling up to $195 million and royalties. AstraZeneca may collaborate with VaxEquity on up to 26 drug targets.
“This collaboration with VaxEquity adds a promising new platform to our drug discovery toolbox,” said Mene Pangalos, executive vice-president of BioPharmaceuticals R&D at AstraZeneca, in the press release. “We believe self-amplifying RNA, once [optimized], will allow us to target novel pathways not amenable to traditional drug discovery across our therapy areas of interest.”