In May 2017, Sosei invested £35 million ($45.2 million) in MiNA Therapeutics with an option to buy out the RNA biotech if all went well. Now, nearly a year and a half later, the Tokyo-based company is passing on that option, giving up the right to acquire MiNA in the future but holding on to the 25% stake it has in the company.
If it had gone through with the option, Sosei said last year that it would pony up £140 million to bring its stake to 100%. The buyout clause was linked to the progress of MiNA’s lead asset, MTL-CEBPA, a small activating RNA candidate that is in phase 1 for advanced liver cancer.
“We believe MTL-CEBPA could allow us to advance our pipeline strategy with a novel clinical asset that could be developed and ultimately commercialised by Sosei,” said Sosei CEO Peter Bains at the time. “We recognise that this asset is early stage and that more robust data will be available in the near term; these considerations have influenced the prudent and phased deal structure. We also believe that MiNA’s RNA activation platform can be applied to other gene targets, providing the opportunity to create a pipeline of innovative products.”
The decision, MiNA said in a statement, is “a result of Sosei’s strategic prioritisation.” But it “does not impact the ongoing development efforts or the company's future development plans,” MiNa said. A phase 1b study testing MTL-CEBPA in combination with Bayer’s Nexavar is slated to start in the fourth quarter.
"We have generated very positive results to date both in the MTL-CEBPA clinical program and across the pipeline, but we appreciate that Sosei has to follow their prioritisation process which led to this decision. MiNA remains well funded to continue the development of our pipeline," said MiNA CEO Robert Habib in the statement. "We value our ongoing relationship with Sosei as an investor in the company and we look forward to working closely with all our shareholders to realise the potential of small activating RNA medicines in patients."