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Shire offloads mRNA tech and staff to RaNa Therapeutics

Dan Stanton

By Dan Stanton+

05-Jan-2017

Image: iStock/Hywards
Image: iStock/Hywards

Shire has sold its MRT messenger RNA platform to RaNA Therapeutics but will retain an equity stake in the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech.

The MRT platform has been in development since 2008 in order to develop new therapeutics based on messenger RNA (mRNA) designed to enable the in vivo production of both intracellular and secreted proteins.

But yesterday RNA-focused biotech RaNA Therapeutics announced it has acquired the technology and taken on a number of staff working in the space from Biopharma firm Shire.

Shire spokeswoman Katie Joyce told this publication the firm “made the decision in 2016 to externalise the MRT program as part of a portfolio optimisation exercise.”

2016 was also the year Shire completed its $32bn acquisition of Baxalta , and since then the firm has been proactive in focusing on rare diseases, trimming non-core areas including biosimilars , a gene therapy candidate , and a kinase inhibitor deal with CTI Biopharma .

Financial details of the MRT deal were not disclosed but RaNa will continue to advance the platform with lead programs in cystic fibrosis (CF) and urea cycle disorders (UCD).

And Shire will retain an interest in the technology, Joyce said, receiving an equity stake in RaNA and being eligible for future milestones and royalties on products developed with the technology.

“We are confident that, as a company focused on next generation RNA-targeted medicines, RaNA will be able to apply the MRT platform across various areas of medicine.”

As for RaNa, CEO Ron Renaud said in a statement the firm is ready to “accelerate the translation” of the MRT platform, and that the acquisition “results in the most comprehensive RNA-based therapeutic approach in the industry and significantly expands RaNA’s ability to correct a wide range of disease genotypes regardless of mutation.”

In September , the mRNA space saw a boost from rival firm Moderna which announced plans to build a $110m API plant for its pipeline of mRNA therapeutics in Norwood, Massachusetts.

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