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Eli Lilly’s $15 million investment deepens connections with startups developing novel RNA drugs

Eli Lilly is making a small Equity investment In a start-up that recently became a research partner, deepened ties with a company that could give the pharmaceutical giant a place in the evolving field of RNA therapy.

The $15 million investment announced on Tuesday was announced two months after Eli Lilly agreed Start cooperation In collaboration with London-based MiNA Therapeutics, the company is developing small molecule activated RNA therapy (saRNA). SaRNA drugs are a new class of drugs that work through a mechanism called RNA activation, which the London-based biotechnology company likens to “turning on” a switch to produce a specific protein. The idea is to increase or restore the cellular level of the target protein.

MiNA said that with Lilly’s new funding, it will advance and expand its internal saRNA therapy pipeline, which initially focused on immuno-oncology and genetic diseases. The alliance with the Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant is studying up to five goals that Eli Lilly has selected in various therapeutic areas. The agreement requires Eli Lilly to handle the preclinical and clinical development of drug candidates emerging from the partnership. MiNA has prepaid US$25 million, and each disease target can receive US$245 million, plus royalties for any commercial drug sales in the partnership.

The leading MiNA drug candidate MTL-CEBPA is designed to encode a protein that acts as a major regulator of myeloid cells and other cell types. In solid tumors, myeloid cells are often dysregulated. MiNA said that by restoring CEBPA expression, it aims to change the immune cell population in the tumor microenvironment, which may improve the efficacy of other cancer therapies.

A phase 1/2 study is currently underway to evaluate the role of MiNA drugs in liver cancer. The drug is being tested in combination with sorafenib, which is currently the standard treatment for liver cancer that cannot be removed by surgery. MTL-CEBPA is also tested in advanced solid tumors. This phase 1/2 clinical trial is evaluating the combination of MiNA drugs and Merck’s cancer immunotherapy pembrolizumab (Keytruda).

Eli Lilly is not the only research partner of MiNA. In January, the biotechnology company cooperated with Paris-based Servier to develop SaRNA therapy for neurological diseasesMiNA is expected to receive 220 million euros in revenue, which includes advance payments and development and commercial milestones for the first disease target, but did not specify. Similar to Eli Lilly Alliance, Servier will handle the preclinical and clinical development of drugs covered by the alliance.

MiNA was unveiled in September last year and announced 23 million pounds (about 30 million US dollars) A round Of funds. The biotech company said at the time that the funds would support its clinical development plan. In the announcement on Tuesday, the CEO of MiNA stated that Eli Lilly had brought further verification.

“This investment by Eli Lilly, together with our recently announced multi-target research collaboration, represents our important recognition of the saRNA platform,” he said.

Photos of Flickr users Paul Sebrman Through knowledge sharing license

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