n a yearly basis, more than 80,000 patients worldwide suffering from end-stage renal disease obtain a lease-on-life by receiving a donated kidney, dramatically improving their quality of life. While immunosuppression is essential to avoid rejection of the donor kidney, it also dramatically increases the risk of infection. Especially problematic in this setting is BK virus (BKV), a normally latent virus of the kidney that replicates to clinical levels in 35% of kidney transplant patients. This can trigger irreparable kidney damage that severely limits graft function and lifetime, leading to premature kidney loss and a return to dialysis. At present, clinicians are defenceless against BKV, with immunosuppressive tapering allowing the immune system to combat BKV, albeit with increased risk of both graft rejection and loss.
At Hybridize, we have developed a cost-effective proprietary therapeutic compound that can be intravenously administered to protect the kidney from BKV-mediated damage while maintaining full immunosuppression. Our novel drug diminishes the generation of infectious BKV by more than 80%, and will delay the need for expensive follow-up procedures, including re-transplantation (estimated at 370K€ per patient) and dialysis (90K€ per annum per patient).
Our patented technology employs nuclease-resistant RNA-based antisense oligonucleotides (AONs) that naturally home to the kidney and disrupt the formation of large T- antigen RNA, yielding protein isoforms that are ineffective at generating BKV progeny. Based at the LUMC, our team of scientists from the Department of Nephrology conceived and developed our proprietary technology as a result of long-standing expertise in fundamental aspects of RNA splicing, in collaboration with in-house world-renowned experts in splice modulation in disease settings, viral pathophysiology and kidney transplantation.
Alongside our targeting of BKV, we are currently expanding our technology into an anti-viral therapeutic platform that enables us to target other clinically-relevant viruses.