Asuragen, Inc. announced today the launch of Mirna Therapeutics, a new company focused on the development and commercialization of microRNA (miRNA) therapeutics.
miRNAs are naturally occurring small RNAs that regulate whole networks of genes in a coordinated manner and play key roles in a variety of biological processes. miRNA levels are substantially reduced in a wide variety of cancers and Mirna scientists have found that replacement of these down regulated miRNAs with synthetic miRNAs results in a positive therapeutic response in cell culture and animal models of cancer. In collaboration with Yale University, Mirna has pioneered the concept of “miRNA replacement therapy”.
“The discovery of miRNAs represents a paradigm changing event in biology and medicine of a magnitude that only occurs once every decade or two”, said Matt Winkler CEO/CSO of Asuragen. “They likely will become a major new class of drugs”
Asuragen is transferring its miRNA therapeutic intellectual property to Mirna Therapeutics and seeding the new company with $3M in capital. Asuragen was created in early 2006 in connection with the sale of Ambion to Applied Biosystems with the goal of developing both miRNA diagnostic and therapeutic products.
“Based upon Asuragen’s unique miRNA biomarker discovery platform, the miRNA therapeutic program has progressed to a point where it deserves the funding and development expertise to focus solely on therapeutics,” said Winkler. “Therapeutic development requires an entirely different skill set and funding strategy than diagnostics. Mirna Therapeutics will operate as an independent company with its own management team and Board of Directors.”