AstraZeneca and its global biologics research and development arm MedImmune have announced a five-year strategic research collaboration with Ethris, a company focussed on mRNA-based therapeutics with specific expertise in pulmonary disease. The collaboration is focused on developing new stabilised non-immunogenic modified RNA therapies for respiratory diseases using Ethris’ proprietary SNIM RNA technology.

mRNA therapies deliver genetic instructions to cells, which drive the target cells to produce selected proteins to help prevent or fight diseases. Ethris’ proprietary mRNA technology can be targeted to the lungs where it helps to replace, inhibit or augment proteins that are involved in causing or exacerbating respiratory disease. mRNA-based therapeutics may also provide new opportunities to modify the course of the disease or its symptoms.

The collaboration builds on AstraZeneca’s work in respiratory disease and inhaled delivery technologies by giving the company’s MedImmune and Innovative Medicines (IMED) biotech units exclusive access to SNIM RNA technology to develop multiple new targets for investigation in the diseases of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Bahija Jallal, Executive Vice President, MedImmune, said: “Rapid advances over the last decade have made mRNA a very promising tool for clinical application, and we are excited to collaborate with Ethris, whose advanced platform is leading in RNA delivery to the lung. This collaboration complements our respiratory science focused on early intervention and disease modification by adding novel ways to target disease mechanisms that cannot be addressed by other approaches currently in our pipeline.”