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A Spanish research institution has discovered that the use of a certain microRNA prevents the proliferation and induces cellular apoptosis of tumor cells. Restoring the natural levels of this miRNA, in combination with a low dose of current chemotherapy (CHOP) or combined with an antibody is a new approach to treat lymphoid neoplasms. They are looking for partners, with no preferred location, to establish a license agreement.
Lymphomas are a group of blood cancers that develop from lymphocytes. These cells are part of the immune system and they are in charge of defending the body against infections. Lymphocytes can be divided into natural killer cells, T cells and B cells.
An estimated number of 400,000 people are diagnosed with lymphoma every year, and more than 200,000 people die each year as a consequence of this type of blood cancer. Most diagnosed lymphomas originate in mature B lymphocytes. Mature B cell neoplasias (tumors) include most of Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas (NHL), such as Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphomas (DLBCL) or Burkitt Lymphoma (BL). These are very aggressive forms of the disease. They constitute 60% of B-NHL and need immediate therapeutic action. Lymphoid neoplasms are conventionally treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy of low specificity. The most common choice of treatment for mature B cell neoplasia is the multidrug R-CHOP. This multidrug therapy can be very effective, but about 40-45% of patients do not respond to it. The treatment is highly intensive, it has high toxicity and a proportion of patients relapse in the following 5 years. Therefore, researchers are studying solutions to replace them.
microRNA is nowadays one of the most promising therapeutic tools for a number of diseases, including cancer. The most prominent advantages of microRNA therapeutics include high specificity, low toxicity, and very feasible systemic delivery. microRNA-28 (miR-28) is a GC-specific microRNA whose expression is lost in numerous mature B cell neoplasms. Re-introducing miR-28 in lymphoma cells in the form of a miRNA-mimic leads to a dramatic block of tumor growth and extends survival in animal models.
Importantly, the researchers have found that the administration of mIR-28 has anti-tumoral effects in patient-derived DLBCL xenograft samples. The miR-28 treatment has also a synergistic antitumoral effect with an anti—CD20 antibody. In addition, the combination of miRNA with low doses of CHOP is therapeutically efficient and allows decreasing CHOP therapeutic concentration and its toxicity, thus reducing the side effects associated with the use of CHOP. Therefore, both the combination of miR-28 with a low dose of R-CHOP or solely with an antibody are presented as a novel alternative, especially interesting in the cases of patients not responding to current treatment. This technology represents a long-term, simple to administrate, minimally invasive therapy that targets one of the major root causes of lymphoma.
The research center is looking to establish a license agreement with a pharmaceutical company working in alternative treatments for lymphoma, preferably in Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
• The stability of miRNAs is high, while its toxicity is low or negligible. No adverse effects observed.
• miRNA mimics carry the same sequence as the naturally occurring equivalent and target the same genes. They can be delivered systematically using commercial technologies.
• Very high specificity to B cells.
• The combination of miR-28 with chemotherapy (CHOP) allows reducing CHOP therapeutic concentration and thus, its toxicity. In addition, miR-28 treatment has a synergistic anti-tumor effect with an anti-CD20 antibody, avoiding chemotherapy.
• This approach can be potentially used in all patients, including those refractory to conventional treatment and elder population.
Tested in animal models.
EP patent filed, suitable for international extension
The research center is seeking for pharmaceutical companies working on new treatments for lymphoid neoplasias, particularly Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma for out-licensing the patent. The partner would complete all the steps needed to commercialize the drug combination (clinical trials, approval) via a license agreement.