Dicerna gets $25M validation of RNA delivery tech

We previously discussed the great promises and challenges long associated with RNAi technology. It made a big splash when it was discovered a dozen years ago because of its potential to "silence" genes that cause cancers. The approach takes strands of genetic code, programs them to find the gene responsible for a deadly condition, and then shuts it down. The problem is finding a way of effectively delivering the interfering RNA to the right spot, and vast riches may await the first pharma company to do this.

As Xconomy's Ryan McBride reports on Aug. 11, Watertown, MA-based Dicerna Pharmaceuticals is $25 million closer to a solution after it closed its Series B round of financing. That makes a total of $46.4 million in venture capital for Dicerna since the company was formed in 2007.

Dicerna's unique approach involves using short-interfering RNA (siRNA) molecules that are slightly longer than those developed by rival companies and an enzyme called dicer, which acts earlier in the gene-silencing process, McBride reports. Not only that, Dicerna also says its formula has the ability to hitch a ride on many different kinds of molecules on its way to accomplishing its gene-silencing mission.

"Delivery is the key element of this field," Dicerna CEO Doug Fambrough tells McBride. "I think one of the reasons that this round came together rather quickly, and we were able to get the interest that we got, is the promise of linking our drugs to other molecules to deliver them to cells."

- read Xconomy's story