Tuesday, January 26, 2010

SPC3649 ( LNA- locked nucleic acid) - a new hope for hepatitis C.....

When  I was working with Innovasynth Technologies, Khopoli, I had an opportunity to do literature survey about  Lock Nucleic Acids (LNAs) and Peptide Nucleic Acids (PNAs) (we were supposed to work on the preparation of  some of the LNAs & PNAs for US based companies). In my opinion though these class of compounds (including oligonucleotides) are  still emerging,  I think in the days to come there will be more and more drugs from oligonucleotides, Locked Nucleic Acids (LNAs) and Peptide Nucleic Acids, (PNAs) class of compounds.

LNAs : A locked nucleic acid (LNA) (see the right side general structure), is a modified RNA nucleotide. Ribose moiety of an LNA nucleotide is modified with an extra bridge

connecting the 2' oxygen and 4' carbon. The bridge "locks" the ribose  in the 3'-endo (North) conformation, which is often found in the A-form of DNA or RNA. LNA nucleotides can be mixed with DNA or RNA bases in the oligonucleotide whenever desired. This locking  significantly increases the thermal stability (mp) of oligonucleotide.

LNA nucleotides are used to increase the sensitivity and specificity of expression in DNA microarrays, FISH probes, real-time PCR probes and other molecular biology techniques based on oligonucleotides. For the in situ detection of miRNA the use of LNA is currently the only efficient method. A triplet of LNA nucleotides surrounding a single-base mismatch site maximizes LNA probe specificity unless the probe contains the  G-T mismatch. We have already seen some antisense drugs (oligonucleotides from Geron & Isis) and some are into clinical trials.

Now its interesting to see that Santaris Pharma   is currently advancing LNA based compounds within infectious diseases, metabolic disorders, oncology, inflammatory and rare genetic disorders.

Santaris Pharama, has developed a LNA,  SPC3649 - which captures a small RNA molecule in the liver, called microRNA122, that is required for HCV replication.

As per the claim by the company, SPC3649 works by altering the environment in the host liver cell to inhibit viral replication rather than inhibiting the virus itself. This subtle difference (in comparison  with other therapies) may have significant implications, as it may reduce the risk of the virus becoming resistant to therapy – a major concern with current therapies.

As per the claim by Dr. Robert Lanford,  (who has collaboration with Santaris Pharma), that in a preclinical study  SPC3649 successfully inhibited miR-122, a liver-expressed microRNA important for Hepatitis C viral replication. By inhibiting miR-122, SPC3649 dramatically reduced Hepatitis C virus in the liver and in the bloodstream in chimpanzees chronically infected with the Hepatitis C virus. Four HCV chronically infected chimpanzees were treated weekly with 5 or 1 mg/kg of SPC3649 for 12 weeks followed by a treatment free period of 17 weeks. The two animals that received the 5 mg/kg dose had a significant decline in viral levels in the blood and liver of approximately 2.5 orders of magnitude or approximately 350 fold. Hope the new therapy could potentially replace interferon (interferon and ribavirin is  approved by FDA for hepatitis C and this treatment is very toxic, requires 48 weeks with 50% success) in future cocktails, since it provides a high barrier to resistance. This antiviral could be used alone to treat disease progression and there are indications that it can convert interferon non-responders to responders, so that non-responders to the current therapy could be treated with the combination of this drug with interferon.   More....

Those interested  can see the video demo with the link

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