Apr 16, 2023

Feng Zhang’s Delivery Platform Launched by Aera Therapeutics

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, genetics

Finally got around to reading through the Feng Zhang laboratory’s amazing SEND (Selective Endogenous ENcapsidation for cellular Delivery) paper!

[Link: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abg6155] The authors describe a new gene therapy delivery vehicle which leverages virus-like particles (VLPs) originally produced within human cells. These VLPs arise from ancient retroviral genomic fragments that were integrated into the human genome long ago and eventually were utilized to benefit our own physiology. Because they are recognized as ‘self’ by the immune system, the VLPs have potential as a novel gene therapy delivery modality. In this paper, Segel et al.

Aera’s strategy is to harness these proteins, and structures, to move the cargo of genetic medicines: RNAi, antisense RNA, mRNA, or a genetic editing payload, for example. To date, proteins and nucleic acids have been packaged. The company’s first goal is to move smaller nucleic acids like ASOs and siRNA from cell to cell.

What is known about PNPs is “quite limited,” said Akinc. Their role in the human body is particularly opaque. The literature goes back only to 2018. They are called virus-like particles (VLPs) in the literature, but Aera thinks that PNP is a more technically accurate name.

Aera Therapeutics is announcing its launch today, they said, with “a vision to harness its proprietary delivery platform to unlock the potential of genetic medicines.” Akinc doesn’t specify any disease targets but emphasizes the unmet need for diseases that affect the central nervous system.

Comments are closed.