SiSaf and the University of Leipzig Partner to Develop Bio-Courier Targeted miRNA for the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer


2 March 2023

RNA delivery and therapeutics company SiSaf Ltd today announces its collaboration with the University of Leipzig, Germany, to develop Bio-Courier targeted micro interfering RNAs (miRNA) for the treatment of cancer, with an initial focus on pancreatic cancer.

The collaboration will combine SiSaf’s expertise in RNA delivery using its Bio-Courier silicon-stabilized hybrid lipid nanoparticles (sshLNPs) and the University of Leipzig’s expertise in miRNA targeting and therapeutic approaches in cancer, led by Professor Achim Aigner.

Graphical representation of pancreatic cancer

SiSaf will develop miRNA Bio-Courier formulations that will be tested in pancreatic cancer models in Professor Aigner’s laboratory. Under the terms of the agreement SiSaf has an exclusive option to acquire a worldwide license to a patent by the University. Financial terms of the agreement are not disclosed.

miRNAs are involved in the regulation of various physiological and pathological processes. In tumors, aberrant downregulation of given miRNAs may result in pathological overexpression of oncogenes, rendering miRNA replacement a promising therapeutic strategy. Professor Aigner and his team have demonstrated the tumor-inhibitory potential of miR506-3p and miR24-3p in animal models of pancreatic cancer.

A major bottleneck in miRNA replacement is their efficient delivery. The aim of the collaboration is to develop a replacement therapy combining both miR506-3p and miR24-3p for a more powerful effect, using SiSaf’s Bio-Courier drug delivery platform that leverages the unique properties of elemental silicon to optimize lipid nanoparticle technology for RNA therapeutics.

Bio-Courier nanoparticles offer improved RNA loading capacity and protection from hydrolysis, combined with efficient transfection and controlled release of the oligonucleotide payload. Bio-Courier’s versatility is achieved by modifying particle size, surface charge and surface ligands for targeting to the desired site of drug action. Bio-Courier formulated drugs can be used for multiple routes of administration.

Professor Achim Aigner, Clinical Pharmacology in the Faculty of Medicine at Leipzig University, said “Due to their parallel, selective effects on multiple defined targets, miRNAs offer exceptional opportunities for the development of novel drugs that show enhanced efficacy while avoiding tumor cell resistance. Also, miRNAs act on messenger RNAs rather than proteins, thus providing innovative treatment avenues. We are delighted to further pursue our promising miRNA candidates towards possible translation into the clinic, by teaming up with SiSaf and its extensive expertise.”

Dr. Suzanne Saffie-Siebert, Chief Executive Officer of SiSaf, said “We are delighted to be working with Professor Aigner and his team to explore opportunities to deliver miRNA’s using our Bio-Courier platform. We have already applied our technology to improve siRNA and mRNA delivery, with great success. This is our first collaboration in micro interfering RNA delivery and expands our programs into a new area of RNA therapy.”

“Pancreatic cancer is an area of high unmet need, and we are encouraged by Professor Aigner’s research and the potential to develop miRNA-based replacement therapies to improve outcomes for patients” added Dr. Saffie-Siebert.

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), in 2020, an estimated 496,000 people were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer globally and an estimated 466,000 died from the disease. The 5-year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer in the U.S. is 11%. Acumen Research estimates that the global pancreatic cancer therapeutics market had a value of approximately $3.6 billion in 2021 and will grow to approximately $6.6 billion by 2030.

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About SiSaf

SiSaf is an RNA delivery and therapeutics company. Its proprietary Bio-Courier technology addresses the limitations of other RNA delivery technologies through the hybridization of organic materials with inorganic, bioabsorbable silicon through the company’s Bio-Courier delivery technology.

Led by founder and leading biomaterials specialist Dr. Suzanne Saffie-Siebert, SiSaf is a private company supported by venture capital investors including Vickers Venture Partners and the UK Future Fund. Headquartered in Guildford, UK, it has fully integrated research labs and bio-analytical facilities, a scalable technology to fast-track development, and a growing patent estate with extensive freedom to operate.

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About Leipzig University

Founded in 1409, Leipzig University is among the oldest in Europe. It is a comprehensive university whose 14 faculties offer over 150 degree programmes. Leipzig has around 5,500 members of staff and more than 30,000 students. As a member of the German U15 network, it is one of the country’s leading universities when it comes to top-class research and medical expertise. Its research strengths are reflected in the three strategic research fields of Changing Orders in a Globalised World, Intelligent Methods and Materials, and Sustainable Principles for Life and Health. The Faculty of Medicine, one of the largest at Leipzig University, is involved in almost all scientific areas of medicine. Research focuses on molecular and cellular communication, diseases such as diabetes, arteriosclerosis and obesity, as well as clinical regeneration. The University Cancer Centre Leipzig (UCCL) was recently awarded the status ‘Comprehensive Cancer Center’. Among others, it covers a broad spectrum of basic and translational research.

Twitter: @UniLeipzig