Senior Biotechnology Analyst – Zacks Small Cap Research
John Vandermosten is currently a senior biotechnology research analyst for Zacks Investment Research where he covers a portfolio of small cap biotechnology names. His background includes 15 years of experience in a variety of investment management and research roles across all market cap ranges and throughout the capital structure.
On Today’s Show:
In the past John has mentioned some of the leading cancer therapies that are making waves. There is one approach that is not so well known, but might be one of the most flexible platforms out there. It is called interference RNA.
What is interference RNA? In simplest terms, interference RNA silences genes and stops specific protein production. Most people are familiar with DNA, which is the genetic code that resides in our cells. RNA is responsible for coding DNA information so cells can make proteins. A lot of disease, including cancer can be traced back to the proteins that cells manufacture. Interference RNA disrupts this messaging. It is a way that the body and science can turn off genes and stop specific proteins from being made; proteins that have an impact on diseases like macular degeneration, hepatitis, HIV, cancer and others.
Companies that are developing RNAi technologies include:
Alnylam Pharma is the largest company in the space and just received breakthrough therapy status for Patisiran, which is for a certain type of amyloidosis. Also Marina Biotech, Dicerna, Arbutus and one that I like named RXi Pharmaceuticals. RXi has a self-delivering technology that differentiates it from other interference RNA companies. In the early days, many of the companies that sprouted up had trouble delivering the RNAi to the cell. So RXi developed a method to transfect the cell with a chemical construct that wasn’t damaging and had a high rate of success.