BIO 2014: Why San Diego is a Hub for RNA R&D and Drug Development
Editor’s note: Arcturus CEO Joe Payne is set to give a company presentation Wednesday at the BIO 2014 convention in San Diego. —BVB
Medicinal chemistry has come a long way since the first opiates were “prescribed” in 3500 B.C. Since then, we have seen advancements of science usher in over 1,100 FDA-approved drugs—with a substantial number of additional breakthroughs on the horizon. We now are witnessing the chemical development of three major classes of drugs: Small molecules; Antibodies; (and more recently) RNA therapeutics.
Cambridge, MA, and the San Francisco Bay Area might lay claim to leading the efforts toward the first two classes of drug development, but San Diego is undeniably a growing hub for RNA research and development.
San Diego biotechnology companies are actively engaged in the research and development of every type of RNA medicine—Antisense, siRNA, UNA oligomers, messenger RNA, microRNA—and pursuing every RNA delivery technology, including lipid-enabled delivery, conjugate chemistry, and self-delivery.
Combine this with the world-class RNA research taking place at the surrounding academic institutions in San Diego, and it leads me to conclude that San Diego is a leading hub for RNA medicine companies, laying the foundation for substantial growth over the next few decades.
While it’s debatable whether San Diego or Boston ranks as the world’s leading hub for RNA medicine, San Diego clearly has more companies focused on emerging RNA technologies than the Bay Area. In any case, consider the pioneering work done by San Diego’s RNA companies:
—Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS) received FDA approval in early 2013 for mipomersen (Kynamro), developed with Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ), the first systemic antisense drug to reach the market. They recently landed a $100 million deal with Biogen Idec to support the development of RNA medicines to address significant brain diseases.
—Regulus Therapeutics (NASDAQ: RGLS), a world leader in microRNA therapeutics, has advanced their first RNA medicine into the clinic for Hepatitis C.
—Arcturus Therapeutics, founded in 2013, discovered Lipid Unlocked Nucleic Acid RNA (LUNAR) delivery technology—a premier solution for messenger RNA and siRNA. Arcturus combines its delivery technology with so-called unlocked nucleic acid chemistry to pursue superior RNA medicines for rare diseases.
San Diego is not just a world-leading biotech center of innovation, it garners 266 days of sunshine each year. So, while the debate might continue as to which city can hold the title as the leading RNA hub, there is less uncertainty with respect to the climate—the US Weather Bureau recently described San Diego as “the closest thing to perfect in America.”