OliX Pharmaceuticals and PCI Biotech have partnered to develop dermatological RNAi therapies. The collaborators will use PCI’s intracellular delivery platform to try to get nucleic acids inside target cells.
Korea’s OliX is already exploring the dermal applications of RNAi therapeutics. OLX101A, a drug that targets connective tissue growth factor, is in phase 2 development as a treatment for hypertrophic scar. OliX’s pipeline also features an earlier-stage drug candidate for androgenic alopecia, as well as a clutch of assets targeting diseases beyond the dermatological space.
The PCI collaboration furthers OliX’s ambitions in dermatology. In a statement, OliX CEO Dong Ki Lee said the collaboration will “significantly accelerate our efforts to bring our dermatological RNAi programs to the clinic.” The partners will use the androgenic alopecia program as a proving ground.
PCI is contributing its fimaNAc delivery technology to the collaboration. The endosomal release technology is designed to help get a large enough payload of a nucleic acid into target cells to have the desired therapeutic effect. PCI facilitates endosomal release using light that activates a photosensitizer, potentially enabling it to localize the effect of the therapy.
If successful, PCI and OliX could help expand the use of RNAi to a wider range of diseases. Led by RNAi pioneer Alnylam, the sector has so far had the most success targeting the liver. However, there is considerable interest in delivery technologies that unlock the use of RNAi therapies throughout the body. Genetic skin diseases are one area of interest for developers of RNAI therapeutics.
OliX’s efforts to develop RNAi therapies are based on its asiRNA platform, which is designed to yield therapeutics that are as effective as current approaches to gene silencing but cause fewer off-target effects and reduced immune stimulation.