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GEN News Highlights : Aug 11, 2010

Dicerna Pockets $25M to Progress RNAi-Based Preclinical Drugs

Firm aims to move oncology candidate into the clinic first.

Dicerna Pharmaceuticals closed a $25 million Series B round of financing. Proceeds will be used to advance its lead in-house program in oncology toward clinical development and progress its other preclinical candidates.

The company also plans to use the money to continue to develop conjugated drug-delivery systems that combine its Dicer Substrate siRNA molecules with targeting moieties such as peptides, aptamers, or antibodies. Dicerna believes that this will allow for direct delivery of therapeutics into specific cells of interest.

Dicerna’s 27 mer RNAi therapeutics are based on Dicer Substrate Technology™, a second-generation RNAi approach that provides much longer-lasting knockdown compared to standard 21 mers, according to the company.
The enzyme dicer is a natural initiation point for the RNAi cascade. Dicer acts earlier in the pathway to prepare double-stranded RNA for processing. Dicerna says that by introducing sequence-specific RNA templates on which Dicer can act, it can create more potent and longer-lasting variants of RNAi.

New investor Domain Associates led the Series B round, with all existing investors participating. “With Domain’s support and that of our current investors, we have the necessary resources to continue building Dicerna as a leader in the RNAi field by supporting the further development of our next-generation RNAi Dicer Substrate Technology platform, our DsiRNA-based therapeutic candidates, as well as our proprietary drug-delivery systems,” says Douglas M. Fambrough, Ph.D., CEO of Dicerna.