MSD is back in the RNA field with the acquisition of Rigontec, a German biotech harnessing RNA interference to make the immune system attack cancer cells.
After selling selling Sirna Therapeutics three years ago for almost a tenth of the acquisition price, it seemed like MSD was out of the RNA field. However, the big pharma is now back through the acquisition of the German biotech Rigontec, which focuses on immuno-oncology applications of RNA. MSD will pay €115M upfront for Rigontec, a figure that could rise up to €464M if its assets meet certain milestones.
This is a huge figure for such a young company, founded in 2014, and that only has one asset in development, which entered its first clinical trial just four months ago. The therapy is RGT100, an RNA-based drug that targets the retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) pathway of the innate immune system. Its potential to make immune cells turn against the tumor attracted €30M in Series A last year from top investors, such as Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, Forbion, High-Tech Gründerfonds and Sunstone Capital, which will clearly be celebrating the fast exit.
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