UT Southwestern Collaborates With Pfizer to Develop Better RNA Delivery Tech

UT Southwestern Medical Center and pharmaceutical company Pfizer have teamed up to develop new ways to deliver genetic treatments to patients.

Together they aim to accelerate the development of therapies that work through RNA biology and engineered delivery methods to fix root genetic causes of disease, which Pfizer could apply to its portfolio of investigational programs.

Dallas-based UT Southwestern Medical Center announced a partnership with pharma giant Pfizer to develop RNA-enhanced delivery technologies for genetic medicine therapies via the UTSW’s Program in Genetic Drug Engineering.

“This collaboration, leveraging transformative chemistry and engineering contributions from Pfizer and UT Southwestern, will advance our fundamental understanding of genetic medicines, expand the use of [AI] design methodologies, and lead to the development of new delivery technologies for the creation of potential therapies,” said the project’s Principal Investigator Daniel Siegwart, Ph.D.

Siegwart, professor of biomedical engineering and biochemistry, and a member of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern, is director of the UTSW’s Program in Genetic Drug Engineering.

UTSW said the new agreement will further its research and development of cell-targeted nucleic acid and gene editing therapies that Pfizer may apply to its portfolio of investigational programs.

Potential for ‘groundbreaking advancements’ in healthcare

David Morrissey, head of Pfizer’s RNA Accelerator, said, “Collaborations and partnerships are key to further build Pfizer’s successful portfolio into RNA-based medicines through the development of new technologies and strategies.

In a news release, Morrissey says the UTSW and its capabilities can help Pfizer accelerate its RNA medicines portfolio, “paving the way for groundbreaking advancements” in the field.

“RNA-based platforms enable genetically driven medicines, and we are looking forward to working together with the UTSW team to explore new delivery systems and therapeutic applications,” he said.

The medical center said the collaboration will bring together its recent advances in understanding RNA-based biology and improved delivery systems for RNA-based therapies with Pfizer’s robust and extensive RNA knowledge, rapid manufacturing capabilities, and scientific innovation.

UT Southwestern said the partnership has the potential to propel the concept of genetic medicines forward into new therapeutic areas.

Genome editing pioneer works on lipid nanoparticles

UTSW said the Siegwart Lab has worked for more than a decade on developing lipid nanoparticles for the delivery of mRNA, siRNA, genome editors, and other genetic drugs.

Siegwart was an early pioneer in the development of delivery systems for genome editing, reporting the first-ever in vivo CRISPR/Cas edit using synthetic nanoparticles in December 2016.

More recently, Siegwart’s team solved a major challenge in nucleic acid delivery, reporting the first predictable system for delivery of mRNA and genome editors outside of the liver, providing a potential path for new lung- and spleen-targeted therapies.

Siegwart holds the W. Ray Wallace Distinguished Chair in Molecular Oncology Research.

Combining advanced research and clinical care

One of the nation’s premier academic medical centers, UT Southwestern said it integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education.

The institution’s faculty members have received six Nobel Prizes and include 26 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 21 members of the National Academy of Medicine, and 13 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators.

UTSW’s full-time faculty of more than 3,100 is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments.

The medical center’s physicians provide care in more than 80 specialties to more than 120,000 hospitalized patients, more than 360,000 emergency room cases, and oversee nearly 5 million outpatient visits a year.

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