MicroRNA company Microlin Bio withdraws IPO (again)

After two false starts in the summer, drug delivery company Microlin Bio is once again withdrawing its planned IPO due to unfavorable market conditions.It had hoped to raise $28 million by offering 5.1 million shares on the Nasdaq priced between $4.50 and $5.50, Renaissance Capital reports.

In April, the company increased the size of its anticipated IPO by 20% to $30 million, but clearly those expectations have not been met for the still-unlisted company.

GenomeWeb blames the failure on the company's "immaturity" rater than the market conditions, pointing out that little is known about its drug development programs. Furthermore, according to regulatory filings, the company owes Ohio State University $2.4 million for its in-licensed intellectual property.

Indeed, the biotech has licensed about 100 microRNA-related patents from OSU, as well as the QTsome drug delivery technology. Both are employed in the company's early-stage therapies and diagnostics for lung, ovarian, colorectal and prostate cancer. MicroRNA are naturally occurring RNA molecules that do not encode proteins, but regulate gene expression and biological pathways.

Microlin believes the QTsome technology, developed by an Ohio State professor, will enable it to successfully utilize microRNA for cancer treatment. During transport, the therapeutic microRNA (or microRNA inhibitor) is surrounded by a bilayer consisting of neutral lipids, those that are permanently positively charged and tertiary amino-cationic lipids that become positively charged once the pH falls below 5.5, which occurs inside the acidic endosomes that transport materials through cells' cytoplasm. The change in the tertiary lipid's charge facilitates release of the active ingredient, Microlin's website says.

Last week Dutch firm ProQR Therapeutic, focused on RNA-based treatments for cystic fibrosis, pulled off a $98 million IPO on the Nasdaq.

- here's the news from Renaissance Capital
- here's GenomeWeb's analysis