Pharma Focus Asia

Simnova and Orna Therapeutics Collaborate to Advance Orna's Next Generation Circular RNA Technology in China

Friday, January 06, 2023

Shanghai Xianbo Biotech Co., Ltd., also known as Simnova outside of China, an affiliate of Simcere Investment Group and a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing proprietary off-the-shelf CAR-NK and BiTE-armed CAR-T cell therapies, and Orna Therapeutics, a biotechnology company pioneering a new investigational class of engineered circular RNA (oRNA) therapies, today announced a collaboration agreement to discover, develop, and commercialize multiple potential therapeutics in the area of oncology.

Under the terms of the agreement, Simnova will gain access in greater China to certain programs built on Orna’s breakthrough isCAR technology, including Orna’s lead anti-CD19 in situ CAR (isCAR) program, ORN-101. In addition, Orna will gain access to investigator-initiated clinical trials in China to accelerate the validation of select programs in patients. Orna will receive an upfront payment from Simnova and be eligible for development, regulatory, and sales milestones as well as royalties on any approved products derived from the collaboration.

Orna’s proprietary isCAR technology comprises two components: elegantly engineered circular RNAs (oRNAs) expressing chimeric antigen receptors, and custom-built lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) designed to deliver the oRNAs to cells of the immune system. oRNAs have greater stability in immune cells and are engineered to produce more proteins inside the body, than linear mRNAs. More broadly, Orna’s oRNA-LNP platform has potential across a range of indications including oncology, genetic and infectious disease, and more.

“This strategic collaboration broadens Orna’s capability to develop circular RNA therapeutics in China through Simnova’s development capabilities,” said Dr. Zhouxiao Cao, Simnova’s Chief Executive Officer. “We look forward to closely working with the innovative scientific and technical teams at Orna.”

“This collaboration again recognizes the value of our oRNA-LNP platform and will allow us together to diversify the number of programs using isCAR technology while bringing the value of isCAR to patients more efficiently,” said Tom Barnes Ph.D., Orna’s Chief Executive Officer. “This marks another important step in our overall business strategy where we look to thoughtfully engage partners to deliver on the promise of circular RNA therapies.”

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