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Mirina Closes Series A-1 Financing to Support miRNA Drug Development

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Mirina, a startup focused on developing microRNA-targeting drugs, announced this week that it has closed a Series A-1 financing.

While the amount of the funding was not disclosed, an official from the investment firm that founded Mirina said that it is sufficient to fund the company's operations for 12 to 15 months, during which time the drug developer will focus on selecting and validating molecule candidates for late-stage preclinical testing.

Mirina was founded in 2008 by biotech investment and development firm Accelerator to develop miRNA inhibitors using the so-called minor groove binder technology licensed from Nanogen (RNAi News 8/21/2008).

MGBs are peptide antibiotics that non-covalently bind to the minor grooves of nucleic acid duplexes, and had originally been developed as cancer therapeutics, according to Nanogen. Although they did not prove effective for this application, they were later shown to stabilize DNA duplexes and potentially boost the target selectivity and potency of miRNA antagonists.

Based on in vitro data put together by Nanogen, Accelerator picked up the rights to the technology for RNA-based therapeutics and formed Mirina.

Since that time, the startup has conducted some in vivo proof-of-concept work, which it plans to advance with the newest cash infusion, David McElligott, Mirina’s vice president of research and development, told RNAi News.

"We're going to pursue additional preclinical studies in animals and other approaches to validate what we hope are productive targets," with the goal of entering investigational new drug application-enabling studies, he said.

He added that Mirina has also identified the structure of an miRNA antagonist "we think is sufficient in all characteristics to move forward with at this point," McElligott noted. "That doesn’t preclude us from doing additional structural modifications in the future, of course."

He declined to provide specific details about the molecule.

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