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UCSD biotech spinoff snags $18M A round to advance RNAi drugs

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West Coast biotech vets have joined forces to solve one of the thorniest delivery issues in the industry--ushering RNA drugs into cells. Their startup, Solstice Biologics, has nailed down $18 million in a Series A round of financing and grabbed a license to delivery tech from the University of California, San Diego.

Aeris Capital and venBio provided the capital for the first-round financing, with venBio Managing Director Corey Goodman serving as the startup's executive chairman. Curt Bradshaw is leading the startup's research labs in San Diego.

Solstice Co-founder Steven Dowdy, of UC San Diego, led the foundational research of the startup's technology, which intends to overcome the gauntlet of getting RNA interference (RNAi) drugs through cell membranes to silence disease-related genes. Merck ($MRK), Alnylam ($ALNY) and others have invested a fortune over the past decade on delivery of RNA drugs, and progress has been painfully slow with one big player, Roche ($RHHBY), dropping research in the field.

"Past attempts to solve the RNAi problem have involved large molecules that proved incapable of working in different cell types," Goodman said in a statement. "Solstice is developing proprietary technology that enables short double-stranded RNAi and microRNA molecules to cross cell membranes."

With the UCSD tech, the gang at Solstice aim to develop RNA therapies that reach inside a wide variety of cell types. FierceBiotech was unable to reach company contacts for Solstice before publication of this article, and it's unclear exactly what technology the startup is using to deliver RNAi drugs at this time.

- here's the release

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