Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dicerna Announces Series A, Nastech Announces Spin-Out of MDRNA

As we wrote about two weeks ago here, the new RNAi play Dicerna has closed its Series A, which was led by Oxford Bioscience Partners with participation from Skyline Ventures (which coincidentally concluded its own fundraising recently, which it announced today and VentureBeat reports on here). As anticipated, Dicerna brought in $13 million to advance its dicer-substrate RNAi projects. The full description of the Dicerna deal and its IP and technology is available in this month's Start-Up.

And, as we also pointed out back on Hallowe'en, Dicerna's IP, licensed exclusively from City of Hope, is nevertheless not quite 'exclusive.' Nastech Pharmaceutical coincidentally said yesterday--and elaborated on in a conference call today--that it would be spinning out its own RNA interference assets, also built around a license to that same Rossi/Behlke IP, into a newco called MDRNA Inc.

Nastech chairman/pres/CEO Steven Quay, MD, PhD, said on today's conference call that the current plan was to seek a private investment in MDRNA from institutional investors or VCs, followed by a Nasdaq listing for the firm.

Beyond the company's core IP and ongoing RNAi programs at Nastech that will be transferred to the newco, relatively little is known about MDRNA. Quay offered no details on who will manage the company, who will advise it and who will comprise the board--though "the boards are being built as we speak," he said.

Nastech's hard luck, (most recently) dominated by the decision of partner Procter and Gamble to give up on the companies' nasal-delivery osteoporosis project and documented here by the WSJ's Health Blog, has led to predictable restructuring. That restructuring--also announced last night and discussed today on Nastech's call--either forced the company's hand in disclosure of the spin-out or perhaps more likely led to the decision to offload the assets in the first place, which will save the company $20 million in 2008 and shift approx 40 of its employees (70 positions are targeted in the restructuring).

No comments: