Programming molecules to address unmet medical needs
Although scientists have studied RNA as both a therapeutic target and drug modality for decades, it is only with the emergence of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines that awareness of its important role for human health has become widely known. “The world has seen the power of RNA in the fight against COVID-19” says Francois Vigneault, President & CEO at Shape Therapeutics (ShapeTX). Vigneault and his team are working together at the US-based biotechnology company to investigate how RNA can be leveraged for other diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
ShapeTX is focused on developing RNA technologies that can shape the future of gene therapy using fit-for-purpose guide RNA molecules to edit RNA
During the JP Morgan Healthcare conference in 2020, the ShapeTX team met the Roche partnering team and senior stakeholders from Roche Research & Early Development (pRED) team for the first time to discuss the benefits and opportunities of a collaboration. One and a half year later, both teams were excited to enter into a strategic research agreement to advance ShapeTX’s adeno-associated viruses (AAVs)-based RNA editing technology to discover potentially transformative treatment options for people living with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and rare diseases.
The partnership provides scientists at Roche and ShapeTX with the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded individuals that share their passion for innovation in RNA. Barbara Lueckel, Global Head of Research Technologies Partnering, Roche, says the scientists “truly feel as one team, in fact, it really never felt like two,” united by the exciting prospects of ShapeTX’s innovative platform and what we can potentially develop together for patients.
“We are excited by the disruptive potential of ShapeTX’s RNA-editing approach based on nature’s own mechanism for specific base editing. This new collaboration is also perfectly aligned with our broader efforts across the Roche Group to unlock the full potential of gene therapy,” says James Sabry, Head of Roche Pharma Partnering. “We look forward to working with ShapeTX to create novel treatment options for neuroscience and rare disease indications.”
If you have an opportunity for collaboration or an interesting technology, or if you have an asset in one of our areas of interest, we would like to hear from you.