• PYC Therapeutics and Race Oncology announce new RNA programs
  • Recce Pharma accelerates its clinical programs
  • Orthocell gets first purchase orders

The race is hotting up to develop the next RNA-based drug discovery, as a couple of ASX listed biotechs announced new RNA programs this morning.

The RNA, or Ribonucleic acid, is a molecule made famous by the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

It’s a molecule with many functions in the cell, from coding proteins to catalyzing chemical reactions

Scientists are now racing to discover which molecules RNA molecules bind to, and how the cell responds in order to engineer the biology’s response to various diseases.

PYC adds RNA therapeutic to pipeline

PYC Therapeutics (ASX:PYC) has added a new central nervous system (CNS) to its pipeline.

PYC has developed a precision RNA therapeutic that is designed to address the underlying cause of PMS (Phelan McDermid Syndrome) in vitro, in a manner that is consistent with disease correction.

PMS affects roughly 1 in every 8,000 to 15,000 children, and the underlying cause of PMS is insufficient expression of the SHANK3 gene affecting neurons in the brain.

PYC’s new therapy is capable of increasing SHANK3 expression in cells by ~2-3 fold.

The company says the extent of protein upregulation observed in these in the in vitro studies is sufficient to correct the underlying SHANK3 protein deficiency that causes PMS.

Race Oncology initiates new RNA-based program

In another RNA program, Race Oncology (ASX:RAC) has tapped Monash University to complete a fragment-based screening program aimed at discovering novel drugs that inhibit the m6A RNA demethylases FTO and ALKBH5.

Race says changes in the expression of FTO or ALKBH5 has a profound impact on cancer growth, spread and resistance to treatment.

Race is now aiming to discover new, potent and selective inhibitors of FTO and ALKBH5 for use in cancer and other indications.

To advance this program, Race has contracted the Monash Fragment Platform to complete a fragment screening campaign using the latest techniques in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR).

In this approach, a library of diverse small molecules (or fragments) will be tested by NMR for their ability to bind to the FTO and ALKBH5 proteins.

Molecules that are found to bind to the proteins will be transformed into drug leads, and ultimately clinical drug candidates in follow-up trials.

“Addition of new FTO inhibitors to Race’s drug pipeline creates major value as it grows Race ‘Beyond Zantrene’, and positions us as a world leading RNA epitranscriptomics pharma company,” says Race chief, Phil Lynch.

Other notable Healthcare news on the ASX this morning

Recce Pharma (ASX:RCE) has announced an expansion and acceleration of its clinical programs.

The company said its Phase Ia one-hour single dose IV study has demonstrated R327 to be safe and well tolerated when administered over 60 healthy male adult volunteers.

This now paves the way for a Phase Ib/IIa multi-dose and early-stage sepsis efficacy study, with expected first subject dosing later this year and will run for approximately 12 months.

Recce also announced a new Phase II study on Diabetic Foot Ulcer infections conducted at a leading NSW teaching hospital.

The clinical trial will assess R327 as a spray-on (topical) broad-spectrum antibiotic therapy for mild skin and soft tissue diabetic foot ulcers (DFU), with first patient dosing expected Q4 2022.

Orthocell (ASX:OCC) says it has received first purchase orders for its flagship collagen medical device products Striate+ and Remplir.

These orders followed the recently announced exclusive global distribution agreement with BioHorizons for Striate+, and with Device Technologies for Remplir.

Orthocell says it is now well-positioned to gain commercial traction with Striate+ in the US, Remplir in Australia and to expand into global healthcare markets.


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