March 23, 2010 16:05 ET

MDRNA, Inc. Acquires Bridged Nucleic Acid (BNA) Patents to Broaden Its RNAi-Drug Discovery Platform

BNA Technology Provides Opportunity to Develop Single Stranded RNA Therapeutics for the Treatment of Human Diseases

BOTHELL, WA--(Marketwire - March 23, 2010) -  MDRNA, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA), a leading RNAi-based drug discovery and development company, announced today that it has acquired intellectual property for bridged nucleic acids from Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America. Bridged nucleic acids (BNA) are novel nucleoside analogs in which the flexible ribose sugar is locked into a rigid conformation by a small chemical linker. When included in single or double stranded oligonucleotides, the highly stable A-form of RNA or DNA is favored, resulting in increased thermal stability of a duplex or higher affinity of a single strand for its complementary target, e.g., messenger RNA. In addition BNAs provide resistance to nuclease degradation. 

"The BNA technology provides MDRNA a unique position in the development of RNA therapeutics," stated Barry Polisky, Chief Scientific Officer of MDRNA. "BNA is highly complementary to our proprietary unlocked nucleobase analog (UNA) technology and enables MDRNA to tailor key characteristics of our UsiRNA constructs to impart greater versatility and specificity. Additionally, BNA strengthens MDRNA's proprietary meroduplex constructs and are directly applicable to alternative oligonucleotide constructs including single strand molecules and constructs which function outside of an RNAi mechanism."

The patent estate offers MDRNA considerable breadth in the research and development of nucleic acid-based therapies to include not only those with an RNAi mechanism of action, such as siRNA and miRNA, but those that function to inhibit RNA by a diverse set of mechanisms.

"We are focused on becoming the preeminent RNAi-based therapeutics company," stated J. Michael French, President and CEO of MDRNA. "The addition of this key intellectual property places us in a position to provide a broader array of RNAi-based drug discovery technologies to potential pharmaceutical partners and allows us entry into an important emerging therapeutic space driven by single stranded RNA constructs."

With the addition the of the BNA patent estate, MDRNA owns or controls 15 issued or allowed patents, and has 37 pending patent applications, 126 pending foreign patent applications and 7 PCT applications.

About UsiRNA

UsiRNAs are MDRNA's proprietary constructs in which Unlocked Nucleobase Analogs (UNA) strategically replace ribonucleotides, and are distinct from standard siRNAs. Placement of UNA in the passenger strand specifically blocks the activity of this strand to function in RNAi, thus decreasing off-target potential. Placement of UNA within the guide strand confers greater specificity upon RNAi by inhibiting micro-RNA-like effects. UsiRNAs have been demonstrated to be highly active in models of metabolic disorders and cancer, and function by RNAi to cleave their mRNA target.

About Meroduplex

MDRNA has shown that siRNAs containing a nick or gap in the passenger strand can be extremely active in RNAi. MDRNA has called these proprietary constructs "meroduplexes" to highlight the segmented nature of the duplex. These constructs eliminate off-target potential of the passenger strand by preventing its loading into RISC, while maintaining full potency and RNAi mechanism of action for the guide strand. Greater structural flexibility of the duplex, as imparted by the nicked passenger strand, results in decreased potential for cytokine induction associated with standard siRNAs.

About MDRNA, Inc.

MDRNA is a biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of therapeutic products based on RNA interference (RNAi). Our goal is to improve human health through the development of RNAi-based compounds and drug delivery technologies that together provide superior therapeutic options for patients. Over the past decade, we have developed substantial capabilities in molecular biology, cellular biology, amino acid chemistry, peptide chemistry, pharmacology and bioinformatics, which we are applying to a wide range of RNAi technologies and delivery approaches. These capabilities plus the in-licensing of key RNAi-related intellectual property have rapidly enabled us to become a leading RNAi-based therapeutics company with a pre-clinical pipeline in oncology. Through our capabilities, expertise and know-how, we are incorporating multiple RNAi technologies as well as peptide- and liposomal-based delivery approaches into a single integrated drug discovery platform that will be the engine for our clinical pipeline as well as a versatile platform for establishing broad therapeutic partnerships with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. We are also investing in new technologies that we expect to lead to safer and more effective RNAi-based therapeutics while aggressively building upon our broad and extensive intellectual property estate. By combining broad expertise in siRNA science with proven delivery platforms and a strong IP position, MDRNA is well positioned as a leading RNAi-based drug discovery and development company. Additional information about MDRNA, Inc. is available at

MDRNA Forward-Looking Statements

Statements made in this news release may be forward-looking statements within the meaning of Federal Securities laws that are subject to certain risks and uncertainties and involve factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected or suggested. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to: (i) the ability of MDRNA to obtain additional funding; (ii) the ability of MDRNA to attract and/or maintain manufacturing, research, development and commercialization partners; (iii) the ability of MDRNA and/or a partner to successfully complete product research and development, including preclinical and clinical studies and commercialization; (iv) the ability of MDRNA and/or a partner to obtain required governmental approvals; and (v) the ability of MDRNA and/or a partner to develop and commercialize products that can compete favorably with those of competitors. Additional factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected or suggested in any forward-looking statements are contained in MDRNA's most recent periodic reports on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q that are filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. MDRNA assumes no obligation to update and supplement forward-looking statements because of subsequent events.

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