Marina Biotech Runs Out of Cash, Axes 90% of Staff

Xconomy Seattle — 

Bothell, WA-based Marina Biotech ran dangerously low on cash several times over the past few years, but now it appears to have finally run out of gas.

The company (OTCQX: MRNA), a developer of RNA interference-based medicines, said today it has laid off 90 percent of its remaining workers to preserve the cash it still has in the bank. The company didn’t say in its statement how many workers that leaves on the job, but it means Marina has shut down most of its day-to-day operations, including its support of an ongoing clinical trial of an experimental drug for patients with a rare disease called Familial Adenomatous Polyposis. Marina now has a deadline of June 15 to pay back its lenders with five-year warrants to buy 425,000 shares of its stock.

Given that Marina isn’t advancing its R&D programs anymore, those shares, predictably, lost a lot of value today. Marina stock fell 49 percent to 36 cents at 12:30 pm ET.

Michael French

Marina has made it through several cash crunches in the past, as you can read in this 2010 profile of CEO Michael French. The company, which traces its roots all the way back to 1983, was previously called Nastech Pharmaceutical, and MDRNA, before it changed its name to Marina Biotech.

Marina missed its deadline for filing an annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission this spring, and it hasn’t disclosed how much money it has left in the bank. But it said it had about $1 million of cash left at the end of September, and that it had burned through about $290 million of investors’ money in its history, according to its most recent quarterly report. It hoped to regain some momentum last October, when a single investor said it was willing to provide as much as $15 million more over the next 30 months, under certain conditions. Marina also said it pulled in a $1.5 million bridge loan in February, and another $1.2 million financing in March.