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Posted: Oct 26, 2010
miRagen Therapeutics Signs Research and Licensing Agreements for microRNA Profiling of Human Heart Failure Study
(Nanowerk News) miRagen Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on improving patients' lives by developing innovative microRNA (miRNA)-based therapeutics for cardiovascular and muscle disease, and the University of Colorado (CU) announced today that they have entered into sponsored research and licensing agreements to collaborate on miRNA therapeutics discovery and development. The sponsored research agreement will support the analysis of miRNA and gene expression changes from a study conducted at the University of Colorado Cardiovascular Institute at the UC Denver School of Medicine, "Beta Blocker Effects on Remodeling and Gene Expression (BORG)," while the licensing agreement will enable the company to commercialize intellectual property associated with discoveries made during the research project. Further analysis of the completed study, funded by miRagen, will provide the Company with data on miRNA changes in human heart failure patients followed over two years with associated disease outcomes. Financial details of the agreements were not disclosed.
The BORG study was led by Michael R. Bristow, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine and Co-Director of the Cardiovascular Institute at CU, and a co-founder of miRagen, and Brian Lowes, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine. CU investigators in laboratories led by David Port, Ph.D., and Carmen Sucharov, Ph.D., will also be contributing to the study. The study, which is the next-generation version of a landmark serial myocardial gene expression study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002 (Lowes et al NEJM 346:1357-1365), was conducted in 63 chronic heart failure/non-ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy patients followed for an 18 month period, with measurements of chamber remodeling and messenger RNA as well as miRNA expression at baseline, three months and 12 months.
"We are extremely pleased to work closely with Dr. Bristow and the University of Colorado and to gain access to these unique data in human patients with heart failure," said William S. Marshall, Ph.D., President and CEO of miRagen Therapeutics, Inc. "This provides us with the ability to analyze miRNA levels, as well as gene expression changes, in a given patient at specific points in time in their disease progression. We believe this will provide a very powerful tool in stratifying our miRNA targets and support our mission of developing groundbreaking miRNA-based therapeutics to treat patients with cardiovascular and muscle disease."
"The BORG study performed at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center contains novel information on miRNAs and their relationships to myocardial remodeling and messenger RNA (mRNA) behavior, which will be very useful to miRagen in target selection for their therapeutic miRNA approaches," said Dr. Bristow. "In drug development, animal models are of course very valuable, but for target validation as well as novel target discovery, human data are vitally important."
"The University is very pleased with closing this deal," said David Poticha of the CU Technology Transfer Office. "The team that has been assembled by miRagen has a strong history of successfully developing Colorado-based biotechnology companies, and we firmly believe miRagen is the right and best partner to help commercialize the microRNA technologies developed by Drs. Port, Sucharov and Bristow."
MicroRNAs have emerged as an important class of small RNAs encoded in the genome. They act to control the expression of sets of genes and entire pathways and are thus thought of as master regulators of gene expression. Recent studies have demonstrated that microRNAs are associated with many disease processes. Because they are single molecular entities that dictate the expression of fundamental regulatory pathways, microRNAs represent potential drug targets for controlling many biologic and disease processes.
About miRagen Therapeutics
miRagen Therapeutics, Inc., was founded in 2007 to develop innovative microRNA-based therapeutics for cardiovascular and muscle disease. Only recently discovered, microRNAs are short, single-stranded RNA molecules encoded in the genome that regulate gene expression and play a vital role in influencing cardiovascular and muscle disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally and represents an enormous burden on global healthcare systems. Principally funded through venture capital investments, miRagen combines world recognized leadership in cardiovascular medicine with unprecedented in-house expertise in microRNA biology and chemistry. For more information, please visit www.miragentherapeutics.com.