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Biogen and Envisagenics to advance RNA splicing research for CNS diseases

Envisagenics’ SpliceCore platform can be used to identify, test and validate RNA splicing errors at scale

Biogen and Envisagenics are collaborating to advance ribonucleic acid (RNA) splicing research within the central nervous system (CNS) diseases area.

Biogen will utilise Envisagenics’ artificial-intelligence (AI)-driven RNA splicing platform – known as SpliceCore – in order to define and gain an understanding of the regulation of different RNA isoforms in CNS cell types.

In the process of RNA splicing, extra information embedded in the intermediate RNA molecules is trimmed, with this trimmed RNA then used to produce functional proteins.

“Since Biogen’s earliest days, RNA splicing has been an integral part of our history and mission dating back to co-founder Phillip Sharp’s discovery of the process in 1977,” said Alfred Sandrock, Jr., head of research and development at Biogen.

“By combining Envisagenics’ SpliceCore platform with our deep expertise in this scientific approach, we believe that Biogen will be able to advance our understanding of RNA splicing and potentially identify new drug targets for CNS diseases,” he added.

In a statement, the companies said that the traditional process of detecting, cataloguing and interpreting RNA splicing errors can be both slow and costly.

Envisagenics' SpliceCore platform uses a database of approximately seven million potential RNA splicing errors, providing a broader lens to evaluate splicing events that may be targeted for therapeutic gain.

As part of the collaboration, Biogen will gain access to the SpliceCore platform, allowing it to identify, test and validate splicing errors at a much larger scale for application in CNS diseases, a core focus for the company.

“Envisagenics and Biogen recognise the power of RNA splicing to aid in the discovery of potential therapeutics,” said Maria Luisa Pineda, chief executive officer of Envisagenics.

“Scientists have only recently been able to uncover disease-causing novel isoforms at scale, thanks to improvements in the speed and sensitivity of bioinformatics software like SpliceCore,” added Martin Akerman, Envisagenics’ chief technology officer.

Envisagenics is also developing a potential preclinical therapeutic in-house – ENV-0205 – for the treatment of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).

This programme came from Envisagenics’ identification of a splicing error that occurs in TNBC, which is one of the most aggressive types of breast cancer and typically carries a poor prognosis.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

14th May 2021

From: Research

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