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A biotechnology startup in Fukuoka Prefecture is partnering with local authorities to develop a drug to treat COVID-19 using its RNA technology.

Bonac Corp., based in Kurume, says only two other companies in the world are trying to develop a nucleic acid medicine for the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Under an agreement between the company and the Fukuoka Prefectural Government earlier this week, they will aim at developing a drug to be inhaled so it can work directly on the patient’s lungs, reducing side effects.

The efficacy of the drug will be examined at the Fukuoka Institute of Health and Environmental Sciences, a biosafety level 3 facility run by the prefectural government, with the goal of starting a clinical trial in April 2022.

Bonac, established in 2010, says it will attempt to use its “RNA interference technology” to create a drug that can decompose the genomic RNA of the coronavirus to produce anti-viral effects in infected patients.

The nucleic acids DNA and RNA can be found in the cells of all living organisms. Their tasks are to store and transmit genetic information.

“The results of first in vitro screenings indicate our proprietary platform technology in nucleic acid medicine is directly applicable to COVID-19,” said CEO Hirotake Hayashi in a statement.

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