AstraZeneca, along with its global biologics research and development unit MedImmune, and German biotech Ethris have entered a strategic research collaboration to develop stabilised non-immunogenic modified messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) therapies for respiratory diseases.

As part of the five-year collaboration, multiple new targets will be developed using Ethris’ latest stabilised non-immunogenic messenger (SNIM) RNA technology through AstraZeneca’s MedImmune and Innovative Medicines (IMED) biotech divisions.

The targets will be investigated in asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Ethris president and CEO Dr Carsten Rudolph said: “This collaboration validates Ethris’ leading position in development and delivery of mRNA therapies for the treatment of pulmonary diseases.

“This collaboration pairs our proprietary technology with the world-class expertise of AstraZeneca and MedImmune in respiratory diseases, biologics development and commercialisation, and positions us to bring forward new options for patients.”

"This collaboration validates Ethris’ leading position in development and delivery of mRNA therapies for the treatment of pulmonary diseases."

Under the deal, Ethris will receive €25m upfront plus research funding and is eligible for future research and development milestones, including sales related royalties upon commercialisation.

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AstraZeneca and MedImmune will have the option for exclusive worldwide licences upon completion of the research plan for each target within the partnership.

mRNA treatments deliver genetic instructions to cells that help drive the target cells generate selected proteins to prevent or combat diseases.

The mRNA technology can be targeted to the lungs where it allows replacing, inhibiting or augmenting proteins that help cause the respiratory diseases.

In addition, mRNA-based therapeutics may provide new opportunities to modify the course of the disease or its symptoms.