Shire sells mRNA therapy platform to RaNA Therapeutics

Shire sold its mRNA therapy platform to RaNA Therapeutics in return for an undisclosed equity stake, as well as future milestones and royalties on products developed with the technology, RaNA announced Wednesday. Under the deal, Shire's former employees focused on the development of the technology have joined RaNA to continue to advance the platform, with lead programmes in cystic fibrosis and urea cycle disorders. 

"This acquisition results in the most comprehensive RNA-based therapeutic approach in the industry," remarked RaNA CEO Ron Renaud. The executive said the company plans to apply the technology, dubbed the MRT platform, to "as many genetic diseases as possible," adding "this is a platform that we've been interested in for quite some time. We pursued it as much as we could."

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Renaud indicated that RaNA aims to complete regulatory filings to progress both acquired programmes to clinical development by the end of this year, while the company also has lead internal programmes in spinal muscular atrophy and Friedreich’s ataxia. The executive also noted that the drugmaker is in the process of a "significant raise" of capital without divulging details. 

Meanwhile, Shire spokesperson Lisa Adler explained that the company chose to discontinue development of mRNA therapies earlier last year in a "portfolio optimisation exercise." Adler added "Shire continues to recognise the potential of this platform and is committed to a smooth transition to RaNA of the [experimental drugs] and the individuals who have contributed to their progression."

Other companies developing RNA therapies include Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, BioNTech, CureVac and Moderna Therapeutics. For related analysis, read Spotlight On Interview: Moderna keeps building out while resisting the urge to get tied down, according to CEO Stéphane Bancel.

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