Funding will advance company’s isCAR program toward clinical trials as well as support development of other internal and partnered preclinical programs
Cambridge, Mass., August 16, 2022 – Orna Therapeutics, a biotechnology company pioneering a new class of fully engineered circular RNA therapies (oRNA), today announced the initial closing of its $221 million Series B financing. At signing, the company received approximately $121 million and expects to receive the remaining $100 million subject to customary closing conditions (including regulatory approval under the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Act). Merck participated as a new investor in the financing alongside commitments from founding investors MPM Capital and BioImpact Capital, an affiliate of MPM, among others. Orna was created in 2019 by MPM Capital and BioImpact Capital, with funding from the UBS Oncology Impact Fund.
The financing will enable Orna to continue development of its circular RNA + LNP (lipid nanoparticle) delivery platform, as augmented by its joint venture with ReNAgade Therapeutics, an RNA delivery company created by MPM Capital and BioImpact Capital, to advance its lead in situ CAR (isCAR) program toward the clinic and build manufacturing capabilities to support development of an expanding preclinical and clinical pipeline.
“In under three years, Orna has taken proprietary circular RNA from academic literature to the first proof of concept data in preclinical models,” said Tom Barnes, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Orna and Entrepreneur at BioImpact Capital. “Investors continue to recognize our premier technology and the hard work of our team, and we are pleased to see such unwavering belief in the potential of circular RNA to revolutionize how we treat disease.”
Orna is expanding the reach of current RNA therapeutics with recently presented preclinical data demonstrating the potential of oRNA to treat cancer, genetic disorders, and infectious diseases. Orna’s lead isCAR program demonstrated tumor suppression and eradication in animal models, indicating significant potential that oRNA-based cancer therapies could be superior to traditional cell therapies. With the proceeds of the Series B financing, Orna anticipates advancing this program into clinical trials in 2024.
“In just a few years since we created and built the company, Orna has made remarkable progress in demonstrating the extensive power of its circular RNA + LNP delivery technologies,” said Ansbert Gadicke, M.D., Chairman of Orna, Managing Partner of BioImpact Capital and MPM Managing Director. “oRNA, with its numerous advantages over linear mRNA, is the next generation of RNA therapies, and we are excited to see the continued development and applications of this technology.”
“It has been validating to see the promise of RNA realized through linear mRNA-based vaccines,” said Daniel G. Anderson, Ph.D., Professor of Chemical Engineering and core member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science at MIT, and Co-founder of Orna. “Orna’s next generation of oRNA therapies not only demonstrate promise as vaccines, but also as treatments for a range of diseases where other modalities have fallen short.”
SVB Securities acted as financial advisor to Orna on this transaction.
About Orna Therapeutics
Orna Therapeutics was founded on groundbreaking research by Alex Wesselhoeft, Ph.D., and Daniel G. Anderson, Ph.D., from MIT and built by MPM Capital and BioImpact Capital, an affiliate of MPM. Orna’s proprietary circular RNA (oRNA) is engineered as linear RNA that self-circularizes. By taking a line and turning it into a circle, oRNA exhibits numerous advantages over traditional linear mRNA therapies such as simplified production, increased protein expression, and a superior immunogenicity profile. With proprietary lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), including those from Orna’s joint venture with ReNAgade Therapeutics, an RNA delivery company, our technologies expand the possibilities of what RNA therapeutics can achieve. To learn more visit: www.ornatx.com and follow Orna Therapeutics on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Peg Rusconi, Verge Scientific Communications