ARTICLE | Emerging Company Profile

Heartfelt WISPER

HaYa's ASOs target WISPER for safer treatment of cardiac fibrosis

August 24, 2017 6:00 PM UTC

HaYa Therapeutics is using antisense oligonucleotides to target the lncRNA WISPER to treat cardiac fibrosis caused by cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarction. Because WISPER expression is confined to the heart, the newco is betting its ASOs will have fewer off-target effects in non-cardiac tissues than other therapies in development for cardiac fibrosis.

The newco's WISPER program evolved from research into long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and other putative "junk DNA" by co-founder and CEO Samir Ounzain's group at the University of Lausanne. In a 2014 study in the European Heart Journal, his group used genome-wide expression profiling of lncRNAs in the transcriptome of mouse models of myocardial infarction (MI) to identify nearly 600 previously unreported heart-specific lncRNAs -- including WISPER -- that were linked to cardiac stress responses to MI...