MDRNA to buy Cequent Pharmaceuticals

BOTHELL, Wash. MDRNA plans to buy Cambridge, Mass.-based Cequent Pharmaceuticals for $46 million, the biotech company announced Thursday. MDRNA expects the acquisition to be complete in early July.

Both companies develop drugs using RNA interference, or RNAi, a technology that allows genes to be switched on and off in order to treat such diseases as cancer. MDRNA, based in the Seattle suburb of Bothell, Wash., said the combined company would have multiple RNAi drug-discovery platforms for creating drugs administered by mouth, injection and other means. One product in Cequent’s pipeline is a drug that will soon begin early-stage clinical trials as a treatment for familial adenomatous polyposis, a genetic disorder that is a precursor to colon cancer.

“We anticipate that this transaction will accelerate the development of the most promising products of both companies,” MDRNA board chairman Bruce Thaw said. “We believe that the combined company will be in a strong position to advance multiple RNAi drug-discovery platforms, establish premier R&D partnerships with large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and accelerate RNAi-based therapeutics to patients in need.”

MDRNA president and CEO J. Michael French will remain as leader of the combined company, which will be headquartered in Bothell. Cequent president and CEO Peter Parker will serve as chairman of the board of directors.