RaNA Therapeutics said today it has acquired the MRT platform for developing mRNA therapies from Shire, whose subsidiaries developed the technology.
The value of the deal was not disclosed. Shire will receive an unspecified equity stake in privately held RaNA and will be eligible for future milestone payments and royalties, RaNA said.
“Shire recognizes the potential of the MRT platform, and we are committed to the smooth transition to RaNA,” Philip Vickers, Ph.D., Shire’s head of R&D, said in a statement.
Shire’s former MRT employees, who have worked to develop the platform since 2008, have joined RaNA to continue to advance the technology, with lead programs to develop mRNA therapies for cystic fibrosis (CF) and urea cycle disorders that include ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency (OTC).
According to RaNA’s website, the CF program targeting the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) and the OTC program with an unspecified target are in lead-optimization/IND-enabling phases, while five additional programs are in discovery phases—monogenic liver disease (multiple targets), nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH; undisclosed target), spinal muscular atrophy (targeting SMN2), Friedreich’s ataxia (targeting FXN), and inflammatory disease (undisclosed target).
“We are prepared to accelerate the translation of this powerful platform with the goal of developing breakthrough therapies for people living with life-limiting diseases,” RaNA CEO Ron Renaud said in a statement.
Renaud told the Boston Business Journal that approximately 10 to 20 Shire employees will join his company, which now has 48 employees based in Cambridge, MA.
Founded in 2011 to commercialize technology developed at Massachusetts General Hospital, RaNA won $55 million in Series B financing in July 2015. MRL Ventures, the early-stage therapeutics fund of Merck & Co., and The Baupost Group co-led the round, with additional participation from new investors Rock Springs Capital Management, Brookside Capital, Leerink Partners LLC, and an undisclosed blue chip public investment fund. Existing investors Atlas Venture, Monsanto, MS Ventures, Omega Funds, Partners Innovation Fund, Pfizer Venture Investments, and SR One also participated in the financing.
At the time, RaNA said it planned to advance two of its programs into clinical phases by 2017. The company plans to advance the CF and urea cycle disorders programs into clinical phases within 12 to 18 months, Renaud told the newspaper.