The University of British Columbia, Mitacs, and the University of Manitoba will join Renaissance BioScience Corporation (RBSC) in a three-year $975,000 CDN ($741,750), multi-investigator research and development project.
Mitacs will provide matching funding for the RBSC project to extend its research and development of an engineered, yeast-based RNA interference (RNAi) production and delivery platform across insect and animal models.
The tests performed and funded in this partnership will confirm the proof-of-concept utility for the yeast-based system. This system may then be able to augment industrial chemical pesticides of an animal and human biotherapeutics production and delivery platforms.
Mitacs CEO and scientific director Alejandro Adem said that yeast-based RNAi therapeutics is an emerging area of research and Canada has the opportunity to become a world leader in it.
Matthew Dahabieh, CSO of RBSC, said in a statement, “There is a significant potential global market, for these environmentally friendly, RNAi-based technologies, especially in the crop protection and animal agricultural sectors.”
He further stated, “Up until now, the efficient and cost-effective delivery of RNAi in the field has always been a barrier to adoption. Yeast, however, as a stable, non-toxic and well-understood industrial organism, is an excellent platform to deliver on the promise of RNAi as a biocontrol and medical biotherapeutics agent.”
RNAi: An emerging area itself
In August 2018, Alnylam’s Onpattro (patisiran) was the first RNAi therapeutic treatment to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
RNAi itself is still being researched and is an emerging area for therapeutic development. Research has shown that it can be applied to treatments for viral infections, cancers, and neurological diseases based on its programmed target.