USM Maryland Momentum Fund Invests $250,000 in $3.5M Seed Round of miRecule Inc.
Biotech company is developing breakthrough RNA therapies for cancer and muscular dystrophy
Baltimore, MD. (Aug. 10, 2020) -- The University System of Maryland (USM) Momentum Fund has invested $250K in miRecule, an emerging biotech company with a cutting-edge discovery platform to create RNA therapeutics alongside theFSHD Society as a co-investor. This investment is complemented by recent funding raised over the past year, which includes lead investor Alexandria Venture Investments as well as Pathway Bioventures, Alumni Ventures Group, and angel investors. In total, miRecule’s seed round raised more than $3.5M in private seed funding. In addition to its private investments miRecule has also been awarded a non-dilutive $2M Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Cancer Institute.
miRecule’s DREAmiRTM discovery platform was developed through more than a decade of research in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. DREAmiR analyzes genomic and outcome data from thousands of patients to identify the underlying genetic abnormalities causing a disease in an individual patient. The company then creates an RNA therapeutic to directly target and fix the abnormality. miRecule is applying this platform to a variety of diseases, developing lifesaving RNA therapeutics for cancer, muscular dystrophy, and even COVID-19.
“We are excited to add another therapeutic company to our investment portfolio. miRecule’s technology has the potential to be incredibly impactful for the health care industry and certainly for individual patients,” said Claire Broido Johnson, managing director of the Momentum Fund. “In addition to an innovative product, miRecule has a strong management team and we have a lot of confidence in their ability.”
miRecule was founded in Biohealth Innovation’s incubator in Montgomery County (Md.) by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Anthony D. Saleh, PhD, and Chief Operating Officer Ashwin Kulkarni, MS, an alum of University of Maryland, College Park. The majority of miRecule’s seed round funding will be used to advance their lead program, MC-30, which addresses head and neck cancer, towards clinical development. Head and neck cancer is the sixth most common form of cancer worldwide, and for many patients, survival is measured in months not years.
“We are hopeful that MC-30 will be a real game changer,” said CEO Dr. Saleh. “By correcting the underlying mutations that make a patient resistant to treatment, we think we can triple response rates and give years of quality life back to many patients.”
About the USM Momentum Fund
The Maryland Momentum Fund is an initiative of the University System of Maryland (USM) to provide late seed investment funding for promising technology ventures that come out of any of the 12 constituent USM institutions, its research parks, and its students, faculty, or graduates. With a $10M commitment from the USM already in place, the Fund co-invests with venture capitalists, foundations, and angel investors.
The Maryland Momentum Fund, which was established by the USM Board of Regents to support promising commercial opportunities arising from advances in research and intellectual property at USM campuses, has invested in 15 startups to date: MF Fire, NextStep Robotics, the North American Wave Engine Corporation, Zest Tea, PaverGuide, Retrium, Veralox Therapeutics, Gemstone Biotherapeutics, Neoprogen, Minnowtech, ARMR Systems, Infercabuary, Datakwip, pathOtrak, KaloCyte, and miRecule. The Fund is designed to create returns and support USM’s most innovative ideas as they enter the marketplace. Learn more at www.momentum.usmd.edu.
miRecule, Inc. is a pre-clinical biotechnology company focused on the development of RNA therapeutics to treat a variety of diseases. miRecule has developed DREAmiR, a genomics-based discovery platform that identifies critical RNA targets in specific subsets of patients that would benefit from treatment. The company then creates proprietary chemically modified RNA therapeutics with improved pharmacology and utilizes antibodies for targeted delivery to the diseased tissue. miRecule’s business model is to develop a pipeline of RNA therapeutics through human proof-of-concept and then out-license the candidate drug to larger biopharma companies. miRecule’s lead candidate, MC-30 for head and neck cancer, addresses a market of greater than $1B with high unmet need. This therapeutic replaces the potent tumor suppressor activity of microRNA-30, which is lost in half of head and neck cancer patients. MC-30 has over 50x improved half-life and 10x improved efficacy over the natural microRNA, and has demonstrated curative potential with low toxicity in animal models. miRecule’s second program, MC-DX4 for the treatment of Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), addresses a market worth over $1B in the U.S. alone with over 40,000 patients and no approved treatment. MC-DX4 eliminates expression of the DUX4 gene, the cause of the disease in 95% of FSHD patients.
Contact: Mike Lurie