August 24, 2023
Circular RNA is a powerful new format for RNA therapeutics, and with our differentiated circVec platform we have a unique opportunity to take a leading role in this emerging space. We are rapidly building our technical capabilities to demonstrate the versatility and broad potential of our technology and put Circio in position to capture the significant potential of vector-delivered circRNA.
The momentum for circRNA has continued to build in 2023 with several new international company launches and major financings. The promise of circRNA lies in its improved chemical stability compared to mRNA, which has the potential to deliver enhanced and more durable protein expression and thereby replace mRNA as the preferred therapeutic RNA format. To capture this exciting opportunity, we have shifted our strategic focus to prioritize the circRNA platform over our legacy clinical stage immunotherapy programs. The corporate rebranding to Circio reflects this new prioritization and clearly signals our ambition to become a leader in the circRNA space.
Under the scientific leadership of circRNA discoverer and pioneer, Dr. Thomas Hansen, and CSO Dr. Victor Levitsky, we are retooling the organization to strengthen our circRNA research and technical development capabilities. We are continuing to build the circRNA science group at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and are currently establishing our own Circio-dedicated laboratories in the Huddinge hospital environment to increase our R&D capacity. Getting this team and infrastructure in place will allow us to broaden and accelerate the circRNA platform development, and we expect to be fully operational in our new facilities during the second half of the year. In parallel, as the clinical activities for the ONCOS-102 program have been scaled down, we have reduced our clinical development and manufacturing teams in Oslo and Helsinki, enabling a significant payroll cost reduction.
During the first half of the year, we achieved important technical milestones for our circVec circRNA expression system. Major progress has been made both in terms of enhancing the biogenesis rate and stability of our circRNAs, as well as adding novel features to our differentiated approach. The first set of in vivo experiments to validate the promising in vitro circVec data are currently ongoing, and results will be reported during the second half of the year. We expect that our unique DNA-based circVec expression system can significantly extend protein expression durability compared to both synthetic circRNA and mRNA approaches, and thereby become a potential game changer in rare genetic diseases. Demonstrating this advantage in mouse models is a key step to validate our circVec platform and highlight the benefit over synthetic RNA approaches, which we expect will attract strong interest from future partners and specialist investors.
A robust IP strategy has been devised to protect the circVec platform, and two core patent applications covering critical aspects of our proprietary vector-system have already been filed. Several new features and technical improvements have been established during the first half of 2023, and several additional patent filings are planned to further expand and strengthen our IP portfolio and establish Circio as the undisputed leader in vectordelivered circRNA therapeutics.
The upcoming first in vivo read-outs will be critical to understand how our technology performs in a real biological system and how it can be further optimized and deployed in disease contexts. I am very excited to lead Circio into this important period, where we have the opportunity to take a leading position in a new and promising area which is followed closely by the global pharmaceutical industry.
Erik Digman Wiklund