Ultragenyx launches an RNA collaboration with upstart Arcturus

Ultragenyx CEO Emil Kakkis

The rare disease specialists at Ultragenyx are turning to an upstart biotech for new platform technology. 

The Novato, CA-based biotech is paying $10 million upfront to get Arcturus' nanoparticle tech in play to develop new messenger RNA treatments. And there's up to $312 million more in milestones for the first two programs, with an option to add 8 more programs potentially worth many millions more.

Arcturus got started in 2013, taking up residence initially at Janssen Labs in San Diego. A few months ago J&J followed up with a collaboration of its own, though details of the pact were not released.

Arcturus has been working on what it calls unlocked nucleomonomer agent--UNA--technology, which it says can be used to target any genes. It's still early days for the biotech, though.

"The joint program combines Arcturus' technology platform, which we believe solves some of the key issues associated with mRNA therapeutics, with Ultragenyx's expertise in rare disease drug development," noted Ultragenyx CEO Emil Kakkis in a statement.

- here's the release