Scripps Florida Spins Off Company Working on Non-coding RNA
Scripps Florida Professor Claes Wahlstedt has founded a new firm, called cuRNA, that will develop therapeutics and possibly diagnostic biomarkers based on non-coding RNA technology licensed from the institute.
Wahlstedt’s lab at Scripps Florida, which is part of La Jolla, Calif.-based Scripps Research Institute, has been researching the technology, which has been shown to play a vital role in gene expression, according to Scripps. Wahlestedt recently published a paper in the journal Nature Medicine showing that a specialized form of non-coding RNA was directly linked to increased levels of amyloid plaque in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients.
“We have licensed a fairly broad patent with many different targets in major therapeutic areas that fall under the non-coding RNA umbrella including metabolic disease and cancer,” Wahlestedt said in a statement last week. “These things can be used in a number of important ways — to treat disease or as diagnostic markers or tools.”
Wahlestedt founded cuRNA in June along with Joe Collard, a South Florida business consultant. They have set up operations in the offices of another biosciences firm in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Miragen Team Publishes Data Linking Heart Attack to microRNA Dysregulation
Miragen Therapeutics, a microRNA drugs startup focused on cardiovascular and muscle diseases (see RNAi News, 5/15/2008), announced this week the publication of data demonstrating that acute myocardial infarction in both humans and mice results in the dysregulation of certain miRNAs.
The study, which appeared this week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that members of the miR-29 family “a this week in , showed that members of the miR-29 family “are down-regulated in the region of the heart adjacent to the infarct,” and target “a cadre of mRNAs that encode proteins involved in fibrosis, including multiple collagens, fibrillins, and elastin,” according to the paper’s abstract.
“We conclude that miR-29 acts as a regulator of cardiac fibrosis and represents a potential therapeutic target for tissue fibrosis in general,” added the study’s authors, which included Miragen co-founder and chief scientific advisor Eric Olson and President and CEO Bill Marshall.
Arrowhead Raises $4.4M in Stock, Warrant Offering
Arrowhead Research, the parent company of RNAi drug developer Calando Pharmaceuticals, last week announced that it had sold 2.5 million units consisting of common stock and stock-purchase warrants in a direct offering for gross proceeds of $4.4 million.
The majority of the investors in the offering are “long-standing” shareholders, the company noted.
"We thought it prudent to increase our liquidity during this time of general market uncertainty," Arrowhead CEO Chris Anzalone said in a statement. "However, we are also sensitive to dilution of our shareholders, so we were careful with the amount of capital raised at this time. We are proud that this offering was completed entirely from current shareholders and senior management."
Anzalone participated in the offering, investing over $300,000, Arrowhead said.