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New Collaborations and Breakthrough Advancements in RNA-Based Drug Development Programs Lead Santaris Pharma A/S to Establish US Operations

HOERSHOLM, Denmark and SAN DIEGO, California, September 16 /PRNewswire/ --

- Denmark-Based Santaris Pharma A/S Appoints Leading RNA Industry Expert Art Levin Ph.D. as President of US Operations and Chief Development Officer

- Utilizing its Proprietary RNA Chemistry - Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) -and Drug Discovery Engine, the US Subsidiary Aims to Foster Relationships With New Partners, Increase Visibility With Capital Markets and Attract Leading Scientists

- Santaris Pharma A/S is First Company to Advance a microRNA-Targeted Drug into Human Clinical Trials; SPC3649 Targets miR-122 for the Treatment of Hepatitis C

- Recently Announced Strategic Alliance With Shire Demonstrates LNA is Rapidly Becoming the Chemistry-of-Choice and Adds to the Growing List of mRNA and microRNA Drug Discovery and Development Partnerships That Include Wyeth, GlaxoSmithKline and Enzon for a Range of Diseases

Santaris Pharma A/S, a privately-held biopharmaceutical company focused on developing RNA-based drugs targeted to disease-related mRNAs and microRNAs, today announced it has established operations in the United States. Internally and through its partners, the Company has a robust drug development pipeline including programs to treat metabolic disorders, infectious and inflammatory diseases, cancer and rare genetic disorders.

Increasing interest, new collaborations and breakthrough advancements utilizing the Company's proprietary RNA-based Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) Drug Platform and Drug Discovery Engine led Santaris Pharma A/S, headquartered in Denmark, to establish US-based operations in San Diego, California.

To spearhead the US expansion, Santaris Pharma A/S has appointed leading RNA industry expert Arthur A. Levin, PhD, as President of its US operations. In addition, Dr. Levin will hold global responsibility as Vice President and Chief Development Officer of Santaris Pharma A/S.

Dr. Levin has 15 years of experience in RNA-based research and more than 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Prior to joining Santaris Pharma A/S, Dr. Levin was Senior Vice President of Drug Development at Isis Pharmaceuticals where he was instrumental in advancing more than a dozen RNA-based antisense drugs from basic research to clinical development.

"We are pleased that Dr. Levin has joined our management team to establish operations in the US and oversee global development programs for Santaris Pharma A/S," said Soren Tulstrup, President and Chief Executive Officer, Santaris Pharma A/S. "His wealth of RNA-based research and development experience and industry knowledge will be instrumental in leveraging the Company's proprietary Locked Nucleic Acid chemistry and Drug Discovery Engine to explore new licensing opportunities and scientific collaborations, increase visibility with capital markets and attract leading scientists."

Santaris Pharma A/S recently achieved a breakthrough in medical science as the first company to advance a microRNA-targeted therapy into human clinical trials. A single-dose Phase 1 trial in healthy volunteers has now been completed and an additional Phase 1 multiple ascending-dose study is planned.

The drug SPC3649 specifically targets microRNA-122 (miR-122), a host factor for Hepatitis C virus replication. In 2008, Santaris Pharma A/S published the results of successful microRNA silencing with SPC3649 in non-human primates in Nature(1).

"Advancing the first microRNA therapy into human clinical trials is a testament to Santaris Pharma A/S leadership in the field," said Henrik Orum, Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at Santaris Pharma A/S. "Our proprietary LNA Drug Platform incorporating short single-stranded LNAs offers higher affinity, greater specificity and remarkable potency compared to other RNA-based oligonucleotides. With a growing list of pharmaceutical partners and LNA rapidly becoming the chemistry-of-choice in RNA-targeted therapeutics, we are pleased to have Dr. Levin join our team to progress important new therapies into drug development."

Last month, Santaris Pharma A/S announced a multi-year worldwide strategic alliance with Shire plc to discover and develop new RNA-based medicines to treat rare genetic disorders utilizing Santaris Pharma's proprietary LNA Drug Platform. This collaboration adds to the growing list of mRNA and microRNA drug discovery and development partnerships, which includes Wyeth (delivery of lead candidates against up to ten targets), GlaxoSmithKline (four viral disease drug candidates) and Enzon Pharmaceuticals (eight cancer targets successfully delivered). Operations in the US aim to support existing relationships and generate new licensing and partnership opportunities.

About Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) Drug Platform

The Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) Drug Platform developed by Santaris Pharma A/S creates synthetic chemical versions of the normal nucleic acid building blocks of ribonucleic acids (RNA). These synthetic chemical versions called LNAs improve the drug-like qualities of resulting therapeutics (oligonucleotides) by boosting resistance to metabolism, increasing half-life and improving tissue uptake. LNA-based therapeutics demonstrate improved binding affinity to their target RNA, which increases potency many-fold over other nucleotide therapeutics. The greater potency of LNA in binding complementary RNA sequences also allows for the use of significantly shorter LNA oligonucleotide drugs which can be more effective than previous antisense or siRNA drugs.

About Santaris Pharma A/S

Santaris Pharma A/S is a privately-held biopharmaceutical company focused on developing RNA-based drugs targeted to disease-related mRNAs and microRNAs. Utilizing the Company's proprietary Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) Drug Platform and Drug Discovery Engine, Santaris Pharma A/S provides fast and efficient generation of lead LNA drug candidates. The Company's own research and development activities focus on infectious diseases and metabolic disorders while partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies include a range of therapeutic areas including cancer, rare genetic disorders and inflammatory diseases. Santaris Pharma A/S, founded in 2003, is headquartered in Denmark with operations in the US. The Company has strategic partnerships with Enzon Pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithKline, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Shire plc. Please visit for more information.

(1) Elmen et al. LNA-mediated microRNA silencing in non-human primates. Nature 2008, 452, 896-899

    Media Contacts:
    Navjot Rai
    Santaris Pharma A/S, USA
    Office: +1-858-764-7066 ext. 206
    Cell: +1-619-723-5450

    Randi Krogsgaard
    Santaris Pharma A/S, Denmark
    Office: +45-45179879
    Cell: +45-20488384

SOURCE Santaris Pharma A/S
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