Orna Buys Competing RNA Biotech ReNAgade After Series A Financing

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Massachusetts-based Orna Therapeutics announced on Thursday it is acquiring competing RNA biotech ReNAgade Therapeutics. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. 

ReNAgade launched in 2023 with $300 million in Series A financing, aiming to deliver RNA medicines to inaccessible cells and tissues. The biotech combines several delivery technologies with gene insertion, coding and editing tools. In January, ReNAgade was named to BioSpace’s NextGen Bio Class of 2024 life sciences startups to watch this year.

Orna, which is focused on designing circular RNA therapeutics and was named to BioSpace’s NextGen Bio Class of 2022, said in Thursday’s announcement that ReNAgade is a “pioneer” in “unlocking the potential” of this technology. ReNAgade has “demonstrated industry-leading delivery” displayed positive delivery to multiple extra-hepatic cells in non-human primate models over the past 18 months, according to the press release.

ReNAgade CEO Amit Munshi will take over as the CEO of Orna, succeeding Tom Barnes, who will remain on the board of directors and chair the scientific advisory board. 

“RNA-centric approaches are poised to eclipse traditional cell therapy-based methods and reshape the future of medicine,” Munshi said in a statement. “This strategic acquisition unifies Orna’s and ReNAgade’s strengths and capabilities under one roof, expanding technological synergies and multiplying the companies’ depth and breadth of expertise to drive a unique RA therapeutic-focused R&D engine.”

Munshi added that Orna’s circular RNA technology will be combined with ReNAgade’s portfolio of lipid nanoparticle-based RNA delivery systems and editing programs. Together, they will have a “robust” pipeline with panCAR programs in autoimmune diseases and oncology, genetic disease programs and a vaccine program partnered with Merck. In 2022, Orna and Merck inked a potential $3.5 billion partnership to explore the development of vaccines and other therapeutic programs with Orna’s technology. 

“The combination of technologies positions Orna to advance best-in-class panCAR in vivo CAR RNA therapies and expand existing gene editing delivery solutions with circular RNA to address the massive unmet need in multiple diseases,” Barnes said in a statement. 

Orna launched in 2021 with a $100 million Series A and secured a $221 million Series B a year later. Its technology is built on research from Daniel Anderson’s lab at MIT. The company’s tech is a synthetic circular RNA with a structure designed to overcome production and performance challenges associated with RNA. 

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at tyler.patchen@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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