Aldena Raises $30M to Advance Skin-Deep siRNA Therapies

Boston Financial District behind water/Courtesy of Getty Images

Boston Financial District behind water/Courtesy of Getty Images

Aldena Therapeutics has raised $30 million from investment firm Medicxi. The funds will help the Boston-based biotech accelerate the development of its siRNA-based therapies for immuno-dermatology indications.

The new financing, announced Thursday, will allow the company to prepare its lead assets for clinical entry in the next two years, Thibaud Portal, CEO, Aldena, told BioSpace in an email.

“Our most urgent priorities are to execute all the steps toward our GLP [good laboratory practices] IND-enabling program,” he said.

Aldena takes an RNA interference approach to skin conditions and relies on the post-transcriptional silencing of disease-related genes through molecules called small interfering RNAs (siRNA), which are typically highly specific to their target mRNA.

The company’s core technologies consist of proprietary siRNA sequences against well-validated targets, as well as bound chemical motifs that allow the therapeutic products to efficiently target the skin and limit systemic diffusion, Portal said.

By leveraging this tech, Aldena hopes to develop advanced and long-lasting treatments for skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, alopecia areata, vitiligo and psoriasis. The privately held company currently has six candidates, three of which will be ready for Investigational New Drug applications by 2024, according to Thursday's press release. 

Portal is a dermatology specialist with deep experience in the field. He previously held a leadership position at Galderma, where he oversaw its Prescription Medicines business and strategy. Joining Portal at Aldena’s masthead is Craig Mello, Ph.D., Physiology and Medicine Nobel Prize Laureate. He will head the company’s scientific advisory board.

Delivery Dilemma

Aldena was founded in 2021 by John Harris, M.D., Ph.D., Andrew Tadros, M.D., Ph.D. and Mark Prausnitz, Ph.D. Research from Prausnitz's lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology will help the company sidestep a major problem with siRNA-based therapies.

While siRNAs can bind to their target mRNA with high specificity, they usually see limited use in dermatology because siRNA injections are painful, while topical applications are impeded by the skin’s epidermis.

Aldena’s solution to this is tiny microneedles, suspended in formulation, “which enable skin delivery of large hydrophilic molecules,” Portal told BioSpace. This microneedle technology, called STAR, creates tiny holes in the skin, making it more permeable to drugs, while at the same time limiting the spread of the siRNA therapeutic to other tissues.

“This is entirely new to dermatology,” Portal said.

Aldena’s long-term goal is to introduce a “transformative new modality” to the field of dermatology, he said. In the meantime, the company is working to de-risk all aspects of its technology as it continues to march its candidates to the clinic.

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