Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Marina Biotech to Stage Comeback

Arcturus Therapeutics Acquires usiRNA Technology from Marina

Today, Marina Biotech announced that it is assigning, i.e. is selling usiRNA technology to San Diego RNAi Therapeutics start-up Arcturus Therapeutics.   In addition, the company detailed recent progress in its patent estate encompassing various RNAi trigger- and delivery-related technologies.  Based on these accomplishments, and after extending the maturity date of a critical loan to 2014, it now wants to resurrect itself as a real biotech company by raising capital and relocating to, you guessed it, Cambridge, Mass.  

The usiRNA modification arguably allows you to circumvent the Tuschl siRNA structure and related patent estate by Alnylam and is claimed to even improve upon the Tuschls by allowing for greater specificity.   In addition to Arcturus and Marina, Tekmira, and likely Arrowhead Research (through Roche), have access to such RNAi triggers.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.  Through the assignment of the patents, Arcturus stands to collect the milestone and royalty streams from Marina’s existing licensees.  This includes Tekmira which in its quarterly filing disclosed this week that it would have to pay $3,250,000 in milestones plus single-digit royalties for the technology.  Although these numbers pale in comparison to what Alnylam has asked for RNAi trigger licenses in the past, this suggests that the undisclosed financials and likely upfront payment by Arcturus should have been substantial for a company like Marina…at least enough to continue to pay its patent prosecution and other bills. 

How Arcturus paid for it is unclear to me given that its first significant capital raise involved merely $1.3M.   

For Arcturus the deal seems to make a lot of sense.  If the usiRNA workaround theory holds up, you would be very hard pressed to find such inexpensive RNAi trigger IP (because from a distressed seller) allowing you to broadly go after your targets of choice.  Obviously, this is to complement the liposomal delivery technology on which it was founded.  With the right financial support and scientific talent, Arcturus will be an interesting story to follow.


Anonymous said...

TKM also disclosed in 6-k that they terminated their agreement with Ha-Lo,further validating Marina.

Todd Hauser said...

Yes, the Halo/Tekmira agreement for MV's is terminated and MV development in Halo-Bio's hands.
I would hope that one wouldn't interpret this as a validation of UNA as a 'work around' or that a 'work around' is in any way beneficial to therapeutics.
Halo will continue to innovate with MV's where Tekmira left off and I hope to see a comeback for Marina- but the two are unrelated.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dirk

Sorry, but I think Marina is a goner after it sells its assets. It's laid off its employees, selling assets, sold its lab equipment. I just don't see Marina resurrecting.

Shame, really, but perhaps Tekmira and Arcturus press onwards with the fruits of Marina's IP.

Anonymous said...

Marina Biotech has a greater diversity of Nucleic Acid drug delivery technologies than Alnylam and Tekmira. Marina's IP is superior, it's just not as far along as the other two. Marina will thrive in Cambridge and will receive funding to start again. Marina, Arrowhead and Benitec will end up as the big winners in RNAi due to the unique and unrivaled capabilities of their IP. It will just take time for the cream to rise to the top.

Terry Chrisomalis said...

I will have to give Marina credit at least it is fighting back trying to stay in the game. It seems a lot of these RNAi companies are out in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I still like RXI Pharmaceuticals the best because of the self delivering technology. Also the sd-rxRNA (self delivery technology) is modified as a drug that needs no delivery vehicle to penetrate the cells.

Anonymous said...

If Arcturus press release today of four new mRNA targets is legit then this transaction will go down as the deal of the century.

Especially when you consider the $450 Million just raised by Moderna.

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