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GEN News Highlights : Dec 23, 2011

Marina Biotech and Mirna Therapeutics Forge Oncology Pact

Marina could earn up to $63 million plus royalties.

Marina Biotech and Mirna Therapeutics inked a license agreement regarding the development and commercialization of microRNA-based therapeutics. Marina Biotech could receive up to $63 million in total up-front fees as well as clinical and commercialization milestone payments over and above royalties on sales. Marina Biotech separately entered into a $5 million private placement.

Under their collaboration, Mirna's miRNAs and Marina Biotech's Smarticles liposomal delivery technology will be coupled. Mirna will have full responsibility for the development and commercialization of any products arising under the agreement and Marina Biotech will support preclinical and process development efforts.

"Given the challenge of effectively delivering oligonucleotides to target tissues, we devoted considerable effort to identifying an optimal delivery technology that would allow for systemic administration of our potent miRNA tumor suppressors and which is already in clinical testing," says Paul Lammers, M.D., president and CEO of Mirna Therapeutics. "With the dramatic in vivo results achieved with our miRNA mimics, we believe the Smarticles technology solves the delivery challenge for us, and we are now looking forward to bringing our miRNA mimics into the clinic in the next 18 months as promising targeted cancer therapeutics."

Mirna scientists have shown that mimics of five tumor suppressor miRNAs, including miR-34 and let-7, all significantly inhibited the growth of liver tumors compared to animals treated with formulated negative control miRNAs. The five miRNA mimics were complexed with Marina Biotech's Smarticles delivery formulation and injected into NOD/SCID mice with orthotopically grown Hep3B human liver cancer xenografts.

With regard to the $5 million financing, J. Michael French, president and CEO of Marina Biotech, remarks, "with this additional funding, we will continue to move CEQ508 rapidly through clinical development with the goal of advancing a treatment for patients with familial adenomatous polyposis quickly to the market. We are also having significant success in the development of microRNA-based therapeutics via both systemic and oral delivery, and we look forward to partnering our capabilities in this area."