Marina Biotech, the developer of RNA interference drugs, has been running low on cash for a while, and now it has found a way to send less cash every month to its landlord.
The Bothell, WA-based biotech company (NASDAQ: MRNA) said today in a regulatory filing that it has terminated the lease on its lab and office building at 3450 Monte Villa Parkway in Bothell, and that it has 30 days to clear out, according to a regulatory filing. The company got out of its lease by agreeing to pay entities affiliated with its landlord, BioMed Realty Trust, 7.8 million newly issued shares of its stock at a settlement price of 23 cents a share. The building was previously the home of small-scale manufacturing for nasal spray formulations of drugs, back when the company concentrated on those compounds and was called Nastech Pharmaceutical.
Marina, which now works on RNA-based drugs that seek to specifically shut down certain disease-related genes, will remain in its corporate headquarters down the street at 3830 Monte Villa Parkway, CEO Michael French said. At one point in late 2007, Nastech had about 230 people spread between the two buildings on Monte Villa Parkway. But the 3450 building has been empty for more than three years since Marina shifted its focus away from the nasal spray drug business.
“We’ve finally been able to jettison that ‘legacy’ building,” French said in an e-mail.
Marina has had numerous cash crunches before, but getting rid of that extra building will help Marina buy at least a little more time during a bleak period for RNA interference companies, as major pharma companies like Merck and Roche have backed away from some of their bold RNAi initiatives. Marina had just $5.9 million in cash left at the end of June, in its most recent quarterly report. In the same quarter, the company had a net loss of $3.6 million. Early in September, Marina said its chief financial officer and chief scientific officer were both stepping down as part of a broader reshuffling of management responsibilities. The company’s slim cash position prompted Marina’s auditor to issue a formal opinion raising doubts about the company’s ability to continue as a “going concern.”
Shares of Marina closed at 16 cents today, giving it a market value of about $12.7 million.
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