RxGen and miRagen Announce Award of NIH-NHLBI SBIR Grant to Fund Advanced Preclinical Studies Evaluating the Role of microRNAs in Cardiac Disease

HAMDEN, Conn., and BOULDER, Colo., August 25, 2011 – RxGen, a specialty preclinical contract research organization, and miRagen Therapeutics, Inc., a preclinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on improving patients’ lives by developing innovative microRNA (miRNA)-based therapeutics for cardiovascular and muscle disease, announced today the award of a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), of approximately $720,000.  These funds will support continued preclinical research on microRNA targeting in cardiovascular disease and help to establish a novel model system of chronic heart failure.

The overall goal of this research is to demonstrate the potential of miRNA regulation as a novel treatment for cardiac disease.  Specific miRNAs have been shown to play a role in diverse aspects of cardiac function and dysfunction and provide a new component of disease biology to target for therapeutic intervention.

“MicroRNA research holds great promise, both as a research tool and as a potential therapeutic, and we are excited to be collaborating with miRagen to advance the field,” said Matthew Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of RxGen, Inc.  “The combination of RxGen’s in vivo modeling capabilities and miRagen’s microRNA research expertise uniquely positions us to accelerate cardiac applications of microRNA therapeutics.”

“This NIH-supported collaboration with RxGen is important in our efforts to realize the therapeutic promise of targeting microRNA biology in heart disease,” said William S. Marshall, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of miRagen Therapeutics, Inc.  “The fact that the NHLBI/NIH recognizes the potential value in microRNA manipulation, as well as the importance of developing a novel model system that may be more predictive of heart failure in humans, is gratifying.”

About microRNAs:  MicroRNAs have emerged as an important class of small RNAs encoded in the genome.  They act to control the expression of sets of genes and entire pathways and are thus thought of as master regulators of gene expression.  Recent studies have demonstrated that microRNAs are associated with many disease processes.  Because they are single molecular entities that dictate the expression of fundamental regulatory pathways, microRNAs represent potential drug targets for controlling many biologic and disease processes.

About RxGen:  RxGen, Inc. is a specialty preclinical research organization providing innovative in vivo disease modeling and related preclinical research and development to meet translational research needs across a wide range of therapeutic areas, including ophthalmology, central nervous system, metabolic and cardiac diseases and disorders.  RxGen’s research facilities are AAALAC accredited and GLP compliant, providing a wide range of preclinical research services from preclinical strategy to in vivo disease modeling and IND-enabling studies.  For more information, please visit www.rx-gen.com.

About miRagen Therapeutics:  miRagen Therapeutics, Inc., was founded in 2007 to develop innovative microRNA-based therapeutics for cardiovascular and muscle disease.  Only recently discovered, microRNAs are short, single-stranded RNA molecules encoded in the genome that regulate gene expression and play a vital role in influencing cardiovascular and muscle disease.  Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally and represents an enormous burden on global healthcare systems.  Principally funded through venture capital investments, miRagen combines world recognized leadership in cardiovascular medicine with unprecedented in-house expertise in microRNA biology and chemistry.  For more information, please visit www.miragentherapeutics.com.

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