|RXi Pharmaceuticals and the University of Massachusetts Medical School Announce Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Cooperative Research Grant for RNAi Therapeutics for ALS|
WORCESTER, Mass., Apr 28, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- RXi Pharmaceuticals Corporation (Nasdaq: RXII), a biotechnology company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing innovative therapies addressing major unmet medical needs using RNA-targeted and immunotherapy technologies, today announced that the company's proposed research collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) has been selected for Cooperative Research Matching Grant funding by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.
The Center awarded the grant to contribute funding to an ongoing collaboration between UMMS and RXi Pharmaceuticals to develop a new treatment for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) using RXI's proprietary self-delivering RNAi therapeutic platform (sd-rxRNA(TM)), a novel class of RNAi compounds that do not require a delivery vehicle to enter cells and has improved pharmacology compared to traditional RNAs. The work focuses on delivery to the spinal cord and brain to silence the SOD1 gene in ALS, and completion of the project is expected to generate supportive data for clinical development of anti-SOD1 sd-rxRNA therapy. ALS is currently incurable and almost 100% fatal within 5 years.
"This highly competitive grant underwent rigorous review by the Life Sciences Center's Scientific Advisory Board and recognizes the potential of RXi's technology to advance novel treatments for ALS, which is a devastating disease and unmet medical need," said Mark Ahn, Ph.D., President and CEO of RXi Pharmaceuticals. "The partnership with UMass Medical School comprises a unique combination of resources, talents and technologies that offers a promising path towards clinical development."
Bob Brown, MD, will be the Principal Investigator at UMMS leading this project. Dr. Brown is Professor and Chair of Neurology University of Massachusetts Medical School, and world leading expert in ALS.
The MLSC's Cooperative Research Grant Program funds collaborations among scientists, academic institutions and industry that promise significant commercial potential in the near term and are scientifically meritorious. The RXi Pharmaceuticals/UMMS collaboration was one of two projects funded. The MLSC grant amount is $250,000 per year for two years, and subject to a formalized agreement between the parties, will be matched dollar for dollar by RXi, totaling to up to $500,000 in funding for this project.
"This is the Life Sciences Center's second grant to support collaborative research between RXi and UMass Medical School, and we are pleased to be supporting this important research into new treatments for ALS," said Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, President & CEO of the Center. "By supporting translational research, the Center seeks to accelerate the commercialization of science and technology, with the goal of strengthening the Massachusetts life sciences ecosystem through economic development and job creation," The Cooperative Research Matching Grant Program builds on the Center's strategy of using public investments to leverage private sector resources as we pursue our dual mission of job creation and support for good science that will improve the human condition."
"After rigorous review by me and other members of the Life Sciences Center's Scientific Advisory Board, we recommended two grants as holding great potential for both scientific advancement and commercialization," said Dr. Harvey Lodish, Chair of the Center's Scientific Advisory Board, Member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and Professor of Biology and Professor of Bioengineering at MIT. "Important advances in medicine can only be realized and treatments can only be developed and brought to market if the relevant research is funded. These are sensible investments for the Commonwealth that will both create jobs and advance scientific knowledge."
About RXi Pharmaceuticals Corporation
RXi Pharmaceuticals is a biotechnology company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing innovative therapies addressing major unmet medical needs using RNA-targeted and immunotherapy technologies. Based on the pioneering work of scientific founder and Nobel Laureate Dr. Craig Mello, RXi's first RNAi product candidate, RXI-109 which targets CTGF (connective tissue growth factor), is scheduled to commence human clinical trials in anti-scarring in early 2012. RXi recently accelerated its product development focus with the acquisition of NeuVax(TM) which is slated to commence Phase III clinical trials in low-to-intermediate HER2+ breast cancer patients, not eligible for Herceptin(R), in the first half of 2012. For more information please visit us at www.rxipharma.com.
About the University of Massachusetts Medical School
The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research. The Medical School attracts more than $193 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. The work of UMMS researcher Craig Mello, PhD, an investigator of the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and his colleague Andrew Fire, PhD, then of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, toward the discovery of RNA interference was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and has spawned a new and promising field of research, the global impact of which may prove astounding. UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health care provider in Central Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.umassmed.edu.
About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center ("the Center") is a quasi-public agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts tasked with implementing the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act, a ten-year, $1 billion initiative that was signed into law in June of 2008. The Center's mission is to create jobs in the life sciences and support vital scientific research that will improve the human condition. This work includes making financial investments in public and private institutions that are advancing life sciences research, development and commercialization as well as building ties between sectors of the Massachusetts life sciences community. For more information, visit www.masslifesciences.com.
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements include, but are not limited to, statements about the future expectations, plans and prospects of the development of RXi Pharmaceuticals Corporation's products. These forward-looking statements about future expectations, plans and prospects of the development of the Company's products are subject to a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions, including those identified under "Risk Factors" in the Company's most recently filed Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q and in other filings the Company periodically makes with the SEC. Actual results may differ materially from those contemplated by these forward-looking statements. The Company does not undertake to update any of these forward-looking statements to reflect a change in its views or events or circumstances that occur after the date of this presentation.
SOURCE: RXi Pharmaceuticals