RaNA Therapeutics, Inc. today announced it has completed a $20.7 million round of financing co-led by Atlas Venture, SR One, and Monsanto, with participation of Partners Innovation Fund. The company is developing a technology platform to enable selective activation of target genes and expression of therapeutic factors by targeting a type of regulatory RNA called long non-coding RNA.
"Our proprietary platform is based on a new therapeutic approach to selectively up-regulating the expression of genes," explained Arthur Krieg, MD, RaNA President and CEO. "After conducting in vitro and in vivo experiments, we believe that the potential therapeutic applications for this technology would be relevant to an extremely broad range of diseases."
RaNA Therapeutics was founded based on technology developed in the laboratory of Scientific Founder Jeannie T. Lee, MD, PhD, and is exclusively licensed from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Dr. Lee, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at MGH, and co-workers discovered a large number of long non-coding RNA regions that interact with a regulatory complex called PRC2, and showed that it is possible to activate single gene expression by specifically blocking this interaction.
RaNA was co-founded by Atlas Venture, Arthur Krieg and Dr. Lee, and was seed-funded by Atlas Venture last year. The Series A funds will be used to accelerate R&D efforts across a range of disease areas, expand RaNA's broad IP estate in the field of long non-coding RNA, and expand the core team.
In connection with the financing, Brian M. Gallagher, Jr., PhD, Partner at SR One, and Stephen Padgette, PhD,Vice President at Monsanto have joined the RaNA Board of Directors; which includes Jean Francois Formela, MD, a partner at Atlas Venture as Chairman, Ankit Mahadevia, MD, a principal at Atlas Venture, and RaNA CEO Arthur Krieg.
"RaNA is a company built upon break-through science in gene regulation," said Dr. Formela. "The early data we have generated shows a great potential for addressing disease in a truly novel way."
Only 2-3% of the genome consists of genes encoding proteins; the remainder had been considered "junk DNA" with no role. Recent research has revealed that the majority of the genome is not "junk," but is actively transcribed into long non-coding RNAs (lncRNA) that serve a critical epigenetic gene-regulating function. These regulatory lncRNAs control the process of development and can lead to disease when aberrantly expressed. By regulating these regulators, RaNA believes it can correct defective gene expression, thereby restoring health in many classes of disease.
Source: RaNA Therapeutics, Inc.