RARE Daily

ProQR and Rett Syndrome Research Trust Join Forces with Axiomer RNA Editing Collaboration

January 8, 2024

Rare Daily Staff

Dutch biotech ProQR Therapeutics has partnered with the Rett Syndrome Research Trust to utilize its Axiomer technology platform to develop editing oligonucleotides targeting an underlying genetic variant that causes Rett syndrome.

Rett syndrome is a progressive neurodevelopmental disorder caused by genetic mutations in the Methyl CpG binding protein 2 (MECP2) and diagnosed primarily in females. It is characterized by apparently normal psychomotor development during the first six to 18 months after birth, followed by a period of developmental stagnation, then a regression in language and motor skills, followed by long-term relative stability. During the phase of regression, affected patients develop repetitive, stereotypic hand movements that replace purposeful hand use. Additional symptoms include gait ataxia and apraxia, seizures, tremors, episodic apnea and/or hyperpnea, gastrointestinal issues, scoliosis and musculoskeletal problems, anxiety and sleep issues and bruxism.

Axiomer “Editing Oligonucleotides,” or EONs, mediate single nucleotide changes to RNA in a highly specific and targeted way using molecular machinery that is present in human cells called ADAR (Adenosine Deaminase Acting on RNA). Axiomer EONs are designed to recruit and direct endogenously expressed ADARs to change an Adenosine (A) to an Inosine (I) in the RNA – an Inosine is translated as a Guanosine (G) – correcting an RNA with a disease-causing mutation back to a normal (wild type) RNA, modulating protein expression, or altering a protein so that it will have a new function that helps prevent or treat disease.

“The Rett Syndrome Research Trust is the leading patient advocacy group championing a cure for Rett syndrome and we look forward to collaborating with them to further expand the broad applicability of our Axiomer RNA editing technology to Rett syndrome, a rare neurodevelopment disorder with significant unmet medical need,” said Daniel de Boer, CEO of ProQR. “Axiomer has the potential to restore precise levels of the MECP2 protein, which is lacking in Rett syndrome. This collaboration marks an important step in accelerating the development of Axiomer in CNS, one of our initial areas of strategic focus along with liver-originated diseases.”

RSRT awarded ProQR approximately $1 million as a research grant for the initial phase of the project, which will encompass editing oligonucleotide design and optimization, including evaluation in in vivo models for editing efficacy and MECP2 protein recovery. It is the intent of the partnership to be continued by an expanded co-funding arrangement following the initial discovery work. The co-funding of the next phase of the collaboration would enable clinical development of an Axiomer-based therapeutic for Rett syndrome MECP2.

Photo: Daniel de Boer, CEO of ProQR


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