Orna Therapeutics Enhances Circular RNA Capabilities, Acquires ReNAgade Therapeutics


The deal grows it pipeline, powered by panCAR programs in autoimmune disease and oncology.

Image Credit: Adobe Stock Images/NateeMeepian.com

Image Credit: Adobe Stock Images/NateeMeepian.com

Orna Therapeutics, a biotechnology company that strives to design new classes of fully engineered circular RNA therapeutics (oRNA), has acquired ReNAgade Therapeutics.1 The company’s goal is to a “unlock the potential of RNA therapeutics,” specifically pertaining to delivery that demonstrated to multiple extra-hepatic cells in non-human primate (NHP) models over the past 18 months.

Amit D. Munshi, ReNAgade’s CEO who has been in the industry for over 30 years, will be succeeding Tom Barnes, PhD, to lead Orna as CEO. He is a former president and CEO of Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. Here, Munshi took the company from a $300 million market cap into a late clinical stage company before it was ultimately bought out by Pfizer for $6.7 billion. Barnes will remain on Orna's board of directors, will be chair of the company’s Scientific Advisory Board.

"RNA-centric approaches are poised to eclipse traditional cell therapy-based methods and reshape the future of medicine," said Munshi. "This strategic acquisition unifies Orna's and ReNAgade's strengths and capabilities under one roof, expanding technological synergies and multiplying the companies' depth and breadth of expertise to drive a unique RNA therapeutic-focused R&D engine. Orna will now advance an industry-leading approach combining the Company's circular RNA expression technology with ReNAgade's broad portfolio of LNP-based RNA delivery systems and comprehensive editing programs to solve the most pressing challenges in drug development."

Orna executives are also excited over the technological opportunities that this deal presents them.

"Orna remains singularly focused on developing the right tools and technologies and building the right company to power an entirely new class of RNA-based medicines," noted Barnes. "The combination of technologies positions Orna to advance best-in-class panCAR in vivo CAR RNA therapies and expand existing gene editing delivery solutions with circular RNA to address the massive unmet need in multiple diseases."

Funded by MPM BioImpact, Orna and ReNAgade have brought in significant financing. For starters, in February 2021, Orna launched with $100 million in Series A financing. Then, in August 2022, the company announced a $221 million Series B alongside a strategic partnership. As for ReNAgade, it debuted in May 2023 with a $300 million Series A financing.

Per the merger, this combined company is expected to feature vaccine programs partnered with Merck, a pipeline with panCAR programs in autoimmune disease and oncology, and genetic disease programs.

"Both Orna and ReNAgade were founded on our bold vision to push the boundaries of RNA medicine," commented Ansbert Gadicke, MD, managing partner for MPM BioImpact. "The fusion of these industry leaders in circular RNA and delivery will transform the landscape of RNA therapeutics and accelerate clinical milestones leading to greater impact for patients living with cancer and autoimmune diseases. The combined company is supported by a substantial financial position enabling these milestones."


1. Orna Therapeutics Announces Strategic Acquisition of ReNAgade Therapeutics to Solidify Leadership in Circular RNA Therapies. PR Newswire. May 23, 2024. Accessed May 23, 2024. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/orna-therapeutics-announces-strategic-acquisition-of-renagade-therapeutics-to-solidify-leadership-in-circular-rna-therapies-302153347.html

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