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Accelerator-Backed Startup to Develop microRNA Drugs Based on Nanogen Tech

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Seattle-based biotech investment and development company Accelerator said today that it has funded the formation of a new microRNA therapeutics company that will develop and market technology licensed exclusively from Nanogen.
Mirina, the new entity, will focus on developing therapeutics using an oligonucleotide preparation method called Minor Groove Binder technology developed in Nanogen’s labs.
Nanogen has patented methods for preparing oligonucleotides appended with Minor Groove Binding agents, chemical groups that have high affinity for helical DNA or RNA. Nanogen is using the technology for molecular diagnostics applications and has also licensed it to Applied Biosystems and Thermo Fisher Scientific for research applications in real-time PCR. Mirina holds an exclusive license for use of the technology in therapeutic applications.
Accelerator said that Mirina's MGB-oligonucleotide compounds are “anticipated to exhibit superior properties, such as enhanced target selectivity and significantly better potency,” and that the technology potentially could be used in treating “a wide range of diseases, including cancers, infectious diseases, and various metabolic disorders.”
Investors backing the new firm include Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Amgen Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners, OVP Venture Partners, and WRF Capital.
Accelerator did not disclose the amount of funding that Mirina has raised, nor did it say if Mirina will be based in Seattle or somewhere else.
David McElligott, who was previously senior director of drug discovery at ICOS and a professor at Scripps Research Institute, will serve as Mirina’s VP of research and development.
Mirina is the first company Accelerator has backed that is “based upon spinning technology out of an established publicly-traded biotechnology company,” Accelerator CEO Carl Weissman said in a statement.
The news follows Nanogen’s announcement yesterday that it will merge with French diagnostic firm the Elitech Group in order to build its presence in the molecular, point-of-care, clinical chemistry, and microbiology markets.

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