Accelerator Corporation, a privately–held biotechnology investment and development company today announced the formation of a new company, Mirina Corporation, focused on developing therapeutics using Minor Groove Binder technology to affect cellular processes involving microRNAs. Mirina, has exclusively licensed the technology from Nanogen, Inc. for use in therapeutics and is Accelerator’s first investment in a technology spinout from a publicly traded biotechnology company. The syndicate of investors leading the Series A investment in Mirina included Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Amgen Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners, OVP Venture Partners and WRF Capital.
Mirina’s technology is based upon Nanogen’s proprietary Minor Groove Binder technology for making novel microRNA (miRNA) therapeutics with enhanced properties. MiRNAs are a recently identified mechanism for gene regulation. Recent breakthroughs and potential applications of technologies to affect miRNAs and to use miRNA-based compounds as therapeutic agents have attracted interest from major biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies and resulted in several high-profile partnerships and mergers and acquisitions activity. By improving the properties of miRNA therapeutics, Mirina’s technology presents promising potential for treating a wide range of diseases, including cancers, infectious diseases and various metabolic disorders.
Nanogen has developed and patented novel methods for preparing oligonucleotides appended with Minor Groove Binding (MGB) agents---chemical groups that have high affinity for helical DNA or RNA. This technology has been exploited by Nanogen for molecular diagnostics and has also been licensed by Applied Biosystems and ThermoFisher for research applications in Real Time PCR. By incorporating the MGB technology into miRNA therapeutics, Mirina’s novel MGB-oligonucleotide compounds are anticipated to exhibit superior properties, such as enhanced target selectivity and significantly better potency.
David McElligott, Ph.D., formerly the Senior Director of Drug Discovery of ICOS, will be the Vice President of Research and Development for Mirina. During his 10 years at ICOS, Dr. McElligott coordinated the discovery and clinical entry of numerous early stage products. Prior to his ICOS employment, Dr. McElligott was an Assistant Professor at Scripps Research Institute. Collaborations with Nanogen will be overseen by Walt Mahoney, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Development, who has led the efforts to develop the proprietary MGB technology.
”Working with Accelerator to license our technology to this new venture is an exciting new area for Nanogen,” said Howard Birndorf, CEO of Nanogen, Inc. “Our MGB technology has been widely licensed for research and diagnostic applications. Extending its utility to therapeutics is in keeping with our mission to improve patient care and will provide the company with new opportunities for revenues from non-competing markets.”
“Mirina is the ninth company in which we have invested at Accelerator,” said Accelerator CEO Carl Weissman, “and it is the first based upon spinning technology out of an established publicly-traded biotechnology company. We are very excited to be entering the interesting area of nucleic acid-based therapeutics and believe that the Nanogen MGB technology should confer a significant advantage and differentiation to this effort.”
“We continue to be impressed by Accelerator’s ability to identify, evaluate and license novel and exciting proprietary technologies,” said Steve Gillis, Managing Director of ARCH Venture Partners. “The field of miRNA holds great promise for treating a wide variety of diseases and we are confident that the proven MGB core technology will provide Mirina with significant advantages in this highly competitive and potentially lucrative area of therapeutic product development.