Boulder firm signs research, licensing agreements with CU for heart study

By Staff

Boulder-based miRagen Therapeutics Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on improving patients' lives by developing innovative microRNA (miRNA)-based therapeutics for cardiovascular and muscle disease, and CU have entered into sponsored research and licensing agreements to collaborate on iRNA 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 CU 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., also will be contributing to the study.

"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. "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."

Said Bristow, "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. 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."