The investment follows an agreement, announced in May, which sees the two companies engage in a global research collaboration to develop novel drug candidates using the saRNA platform. This will cover up to five areas selected by Lilly across its key therapeutic focus areas, with Lilly retaining exclusive commercialization rights for any products in the collaboration.
The new equity investment from Lilly, meanwhile, will allow London-based MiNA to advance and expand its own internal pipeline of saRNA therapeutics, with an initial focus on immune-oncology and genetic diseases.
Robert Habib, CEO of MiNA Therapeutics, commented: “We welcome Lilly as an important shareholder in MiNA. This investment from Lilly, together with our recently announced multi-target research collaboration, represents an important endorsement of our saRNA platform.”
saRNA is described as ‘an entirely new class of medicines with potential to offer transformational benefits to patients across a wide range of diseases’. It is designed to restore cells’ natural production of proteins: with saRNA promoting production of mRNA and consequently the required protein. MiNA’s most advanced program (MTL-CEBPA +Sorafenib for Hepatocellular carcinoma) is in a Phase 1/2 trial.
The investment from Lilly – alongside the global research partnership - are the latest in a series of advances for the company over the last year.
In September, MiNA 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).