Baupost Group and MRL Ventures, the early-stage therapeutics fund of Merck & Co invested in RaNa Therapeutics; a biotechnology company focused on developing RNA-targeted medicines that selectively activate protein expression within the body’s cells.

Baupost Group and MRL Ventures along with other investors participated in a $55 million oversubscribed Series B financing for RaNA Therapeutics. The other investors include Rock Springs Capital Management, Brookside Capital, Leerink Partners, and an undisclosed blue chip public investment fund.

In a statement, RaNA Therapeutics CEO Ronald Renaud said, “We are thrilled to have the support of such a distinguished group of investors. He expressed excitement to utilize the investment to devote more resources to the company’s platforms and programs and further build its capabilities and support its evolution towards a clinical organization.”

The company’s proprietary platforms are expected to create multiple opportunities to develop novel medicines to cure different types of diseases that have limited or no treatment options at present, added Renaud.

RaNA Therapeutics

RaNA Therapeutics to enhance proprietary platforms

According to RaNA Therapeutics, it would use the funding to enhance its proprietary platforms on epigenetic gene upregulation and messenger RNA (mRNA) stabilization. The biotechnology company would invest in chemistry and oligonucleotide synthesis capabilities.

RaNA Therapeutics would also use the funding to support its preclinical efforts in lead optimization and IND-enabling studies for priority programs focusing in the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy and Friedreich’s ataxia. The biotechnology company expects to have two novel therapies by 2017.

RaNa Therapeutics adds MRL Ventures’ president to its board

Dr. Joshua Resnick, president of MRL Ventures, will join the board of directors of RaNA Therapeutics.

Dr. Resnick founded and led biotechnology start-ups. He is also an attending physician at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women;s Hospital.

Renaud believed that Dr. Resnick would bring his deep experience and provide valuable insights to RaNA Therapeutics towards its next stage of growth.

On the other hand, Dr. Resnick said, “RaNA’s platforms represent a unique opportunity to unlock challenging areas of biology to therapeutic intervention. This investment embodies MRL Ventures’ mission to support entrepreneurs building companies that have the potential to transform human health. We are excited to be working with the RaNA team to advance this technology.”