CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--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.
RaNA is discovering and developing drugs to improve health for patients by modulating disease-associated long non-coding RNA (lncRNA), thereby restoring normal expression of individual targeted genes. The technology platform is based on thousands of gene-associated lncRNA’s that contain binding regions for epigenetic regulatory proteins such as PRC2. Our lead products are designed to specifically block the binding of the transcriptional repressor complex PRC2 to individual lncRNA regions, thus inducing the expression of the associated target gene.
About Atlas Venture
Atlas Venture is a leading early-stage venture capital firm that invests in technology and life sciences companies. Since inception in 1980, Atlas has helped build over 350 companies in more than 16 different countries. Atlas Venture is currently investing from its eighth fund and manages over $2 billion in committed capital. For more information, please visit www.atlasventure.com.
About Monsanto Company
Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. Monsanto remains focused on enabling both small-holder and large-scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world's natural resources such as water and energy. In April 2011, Monsanto entered into an alliance with Atlas Venture to explore investment opportunities in innovative life sciences companies. To learn more, please visit www.monsanto.com.
About SR One
SR One is the independent corporate venture capital arm of GlaxoSmithKline. The firm invests globally in emerging life science companies that are pursuing innovative science which will significantly impact medical care. Since 1985, SR One has invested approximately $700 million in more than 140 companies, and its current portfolio includes approximately 30 private and public companies. For more information, visit www.srone.com.