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Marina Aims to Restart FAP Trial by Year End

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NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – As it works to restart its operations after essentially shutting down over two years ago amid a cash crunch, Marina Biotech disclosed this week that it is aiming to restart a halted Phase I trial of its RNAi-based familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) drug CEQ508 before the end of the year.

CEQ508 uses orally delivered attenuated Escherichia coli to transcribe therapeutic shRNAs. It is designed to inhibit the oncogene beta-catenin as a way to prevent the formation of the colorectal polyps that characterize FAP, and potentially slow the progression of existing ones to malignancy. Marina acquired the drug when it bought Cequent Pharmaceuticals in 2010.

The drug had entered Phase I testing, but that study was suspended in mid-2012 when Marina halted its operations due to a cash shortfall. Since that time, Marina's President and CEO — and sole full-time employee — Michael French has been working to raise the capital needed to get the firm up and running again.

In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week, Marina said that it aims to restart the trial in the fourth quarter. French said in a statement that the company expects CEQ508 could be commercialized in 2018.

Doing so will require Marina to find new financing. In the SEC filing, the company stated that it only has enough cash to fund its operations through mid-summer.

"We will need to raise substantial additional funds through public or private equity offerings, debt financings, or additional strategic alliances and licensing arrangements to continue our operations beyond July 2015," according to the filing.

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