China's Rona raises stake in the siRNA game by buying platform, 4 preclinical liver drugs from Sanofi

After raising $33 million back in April, Shanghai-based Rona Therapeutics is using some of that money to acquire a small interfering RNA (siRNA) platform and four preclinical candidates from Sanofi.

The French pharma will receive an undisclosed upfront and potential milestone payments from Rona for Sanofi’s siRNA platform, with the aim of enabling discovery programs in areas including neuro and muscular diseases. Sanofi will retain the exclusive option to acquire neuro and muscular disease candidates for territories outside greater China.

Under the deal, Rona has also gained rights to develop and commercialize four preclinical candidates from Sanofi for undisclosed liver targets. The rights will give the Chinese pharma an opportunity to expand its siRNA portfolio in both liver and non-liver applications, the company said in a statement Monday.

Sanofi’s siRNA platform has already demonstrated enhanced stability and in vivo duration of action as well as the potential for therapeutic silencing of target genes in various tissue types, Rona explained.

“The technology platform is a strategic fit for Rona in establishing industry-leading oligonucleotide modification, delivery and RNA biology expertise across a rapidly growing pipeline,” the Chinese biotech added.

Founded in 2021, Rona completed a $33 million series A in April backed by blue-chip investors like Lilly Asia Ventures. At the time, Rona CEO Stella Shi said the company was looking forward to working with collaborators to push a new wave of RNA medicines into development.

Sanofi has one siRNA drug in clinical development in the form of fitusiran, which posted positive phase 3 data for hemophilia last year.