Rosetta Genomics is allying with rare disease-focused drug developer Marina Biotech to identify and develop microRNA-based products designed to diagnose and treat neuromuscular diseases and dystrophies. 

Under the alliance, Rosetta, a firm that specializes in miRNA-based molecular diagnostics and therapeutics, will identify miRNAs involved in various dystrophy diseases. If the company finds an miRNA that correlates with the disease, Rosetta may develop the miRNA further into a diagnostic for identifying and stratifying patients. If it finds an miRNA that appears to be involved in the disease pathology and could be a good therapeutic target, Marina may develop the resulting miRNA-based therapeutic in the clinic. J. Michael French, Marina Biotech's president and CEO, said in a statement that the firm plans to use its Smarticles® drug delivery technology in the development of miRNA antagonists and mimics for this alliance.

The companies are first planning to take on both Becker and Duchenne muscular dystrophies as well as myotonic dystrophy. This alliance, the firms add, only applies to neuromuscular diseases and dystrophies; both companies are free to develop and collaborate outside this field both during and after the terms of the alliance. 

“Targeted diagnostics to identify potential responders/nonresponders for specific therapies would mark a significant advance for these patients as dystrophies are degenerative diseases that accelerate over time,” said Rosetta Genomics' president and CEO Kenneth A. Berlin. “We believe the development of a diagnostic that can accurately predict response to therapy will bring effective treatment to dystrophy patients earlier.”

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