Mirna Therapeutics raises $41.8 million to develop microRNA therapy for liver cancer

Mirna Therapeutics has completed a $41.8 million Series D financing led by Baxter Ventures, Celgene Corporation, Pfizer Ventures, etc. The funding will enable Mirna to advance its lead microRNA product candidate, MRX34, into Phase Ib and Phase II trials in 2016.

MicroRNAs (miRNA) are short naturally occurring non-coding RNAs that regulate the translation of target mRNA. MicroRNAs offer greater ability to target the root causes of many diseases than conventional small molecules or proteins.

microRNA

Source: miRagen Therapeutics

Several biotech companies have sprouted up to prove the miRNA concept, including Santaris Pharma, Regulus Therapeutics (NASDAQ: RGLS), miRagen Therapeutics, and Mirna Therapeutics. In 2008, Santaris Pharma pushed the first anti-miRNA therapy, miravirsen (SPC3649), into Phase I trial. In August 2014, Roche acquired Santaris for $450 million.

Mirna’s MRX34 is a first-in-class miR-34 liposome for the treatment of liver cancer. Natural miR-34 is a p53-induced miRNA which is lost or under expressed in tumors[1]. The p53 protein is a well-known tumor suppressor. In the preclinical studies, intravenous delivery of MRX34 resulted in a greater than 100-fold increase of miR-34 levels in liver cancer cells.

[1] Nature. 2007, 447(7148), 1130-1134.

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