Eli Lilly and MiNA Therapeutics team up to develop saRNA tech

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


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Eli Lilly and Company and MiNA Therapeutics Ltd have announced a global research collaboration to develop novel drug candidates using MiNA’s proprietary small activating RNA (saRNA) technology platform.

London-based MiNA has been researching saRNA – ‘an entirely new class of medicines with potential to offer transformational benefits to patients across a wide range of diseases’ – with a focus on cancer and other severe metabolic and genetic diseases. saRNA is designed to restore cells’ natural production of proteins: with saRNA promoting production of mRNA and consequently the required protein. Its most advanced program is in a Phase 1/2 trial.

In the partnership with Lilly, MiNA will use its platform to research up to five areas selected by Lilly in its key therapeutic focus areas. Lilly will take on responsibility for preclinical and clinical development of candidates and retain exclusive commercialization rights for any products resulting from the collaboration.

MiNA will receive a $25m upfront payment and is eligible to receive potential development and commercialization milestones up to a total of $245m per target, as well as tiered royalties from product sales.

“Small activating RNAs are a promising new technology, which will expand the breadth of Lilly’s RNA therapeutics platform and the targets we can pursue,”​ said Andrew C. Adams, Ph.D., vice president for new therapeutic modalities at Lilly.

“We are excited about the potential of combining MiNA’s leading saRNA platform and our expertise in new modalities to accelerate development of RNA-based medicines in areas of high unmet medical need.”

Robert Habib, CEO of MiNA Therapeutics, added: “This collaboration with Lilly is an important validation of our saRNA platform.

“Lilly’s expertise in the field of RNA therapeutics and clinical development will greatly enhance our efforts to realize the technology’s full potential. Together, we aim to unlock new targets in multiple therapeutic areas and to ultimately move them towards clinical development and commercialization.”

MiNA’s partnership with Lilly is the latest in a series of advances for the company over the last year. In September, it secured £23m ($32.5m) in Series A Financing, led by Israel healthtech and life sciences venture fund aMoon. This is being used to support continued clinical development of lead candidate, MTL-CEBPA as a combination treatment in cancer as well as wider research.

In January this year, MiNA and Servier announced a research partnership to identify and develop saRNA therapies for the treatment of neurological disorders (with MiNA eligible for up to €220m ($268m) in upfront and milestone payments). In January 2020, it also embarked on a research collaboration with AstraZeneca in metabolic diseases (no financial details on the partnership were disclosed).

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