Strand Therapeutics, a private company based in Massachusetts, is building a platform based on technology developed by biological engineers at MIT including scientific co-founders, Professor Ron Weiss, Ph.D., a pioneer of the field of synthetic biology, and Professor Darrell J. Irvine, Ph.D., a leading researcher of materials for immune-engineering.
The co-founders sought to apply synthetic biology to the emerging field of mRNA therapeutics, building on the long-standing idea of creating therapies that are capable of making sophisticated decisions. The mRNA space was untapped by traditional synthetic biology, which led them to build their own programming language.
Strand has developed the first platform for the creation of programmable, long-acting mRNA therapeutics capable of delivering multi-functional treatments for deadly diseases, with an initial aim of developing potentially curative treatments for solid tumor cancers. The company’s self-replicating mRNAs are bioengineered to enable precise control of the location, timing, intensity, and duration of therapeutic protein expression for improved efficacy and lower toxicity.
In January 2021, Strand and China-based BeiGene, Ltd. announced an option and license agreement aimed at developing and commercializing Strand’s multi-functional mRNA treatments for solid tumors. BeiGene has secured an option to an exclusive license to develop and commercialize in Asia (excluding Japan), Australia, and New Zealand up to two immuno-oncology programs using Strand’s intratumoral or systemic delivery mechanism, which is designed to deliver a tumor microenvironment-modifying mRNA directly to the tumor site.
In 2019, according to a filing with the SEC, the company raised $5.8 million in a series seed preferred stock sale. The round was led by Playground Global with participation from Alexandria Venture Investments, ANRI, and a group of private investors.
Patent – US2019/0151474 A2 “RNA -BASED LOGIC CIRCUITS WITH RNA 15 /5 09, 2 58 BINDING PROTEINS, APTAMERS AND SMALL MOLECULES”
Jacob Becroft, CEO, Strand, is a named applicant on this patent with the following language”
“The promise of synthetic biology is that the engineered genetic circuits will provide sophistication of output control that can never be achieved with traditional pharmaceuticals. Encoding the regulation exclusively at post – transcriptional level and RNA delivery of desired logic circuits may enable the benefits of synthetic biology tools while offering the safety of non – DNA therapeutics. However, no control mechanisms have been developed to regulate replicon-based expression. While there have been a number of efforts to engineer post-transcriptional devices based on microRNA, aptamers, or aptazymes, most are characterized by a very low dynamic range and importantly, the devices are not suitable for construction of scalable circuits. Devices based on RNA-binding proteins, however, can be easily wired together to create synthetic circuits of various complexities or to interconnect cellular and synthetic signaling pathways.”