Austin Cancer Drugs Developer Mirna Therapeutics Files for an IPO

Xconomy Texas — 

Mirna Therapeutics, an Austin, TX-based biotech, is the latest Texas life sciences company to file to go public.

The company filed documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Monday for an initial public offering worth $80.5 million on the Nasdaq stock market with the ticker symbol “MIRN.”

The company is currently developing its lead microRNA therapeutic product candidate, MRX34, for Phase 1b and Phase 2 trials in 2016. These microRNAs are very short strands of RNA that can act like genomic master switches, each turning off multiple genes at the same time. Last April, Mirna raised nearly $42 million in Series D financing round; in total the company had raised nearly $100 million prior to the IPO filing.

MicroRNA occur naturally in human cells and can act as tumor suppressants that “make sure that cells don’t go off the rails and express cancer,” Paul Lammers, Mirna’s CEO, said in an interview in April. Mirna’s drugs are synthetic mimics to help boost levels of microRNA that are “lower in cancer patients,” said Lammers. “We’re bringing something back that nature is missing.”

Mirna started its first clinical trial two years ago, testing MRX34’s ability to treat primary liver cancer or metastatic cancer that has spread to the liver. About 20,000 people died from the disease in the United States in 2010, according to the National Cancer Institute.

In the last year, several Texas biotechs have sought funding from the public markets. Last month, Neos Therapeutics, a Dallas area biotech which is developing a controlled-release technology for ADHD drugs filed a $60 million IPO.

A month earlier, Aeglea Biotherapeutics, which, like Mirna, is also based in Austin, launched on the Nasdaq. The biotech is developing drugs that seek to essentially starve certain cancers to death.