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UVA LVG Announces Latest Seed Fund Investment

The University of Virginia Licensing & Ventures Group Adds Pharmaceutical Company to Growing Seed Fund Portfolio

Local Charlottesville angel groups are among co-investors to join funding round

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (July 31, 2019) -- The University of Virginia Licensing & Ventures Group (UVA LVG) announced today an investment from the UVA LVG Seed Fund in Merand Pharmaceuticals. The company is developing a novel microRNA therapeutic (MicroRNA93 or miR-93), which was discovered at UVA, to treat patients suffering from Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). UVA LVG facilitated the patent protection of the miR-93 technology and exclusively licensed it to Merand.

Local groups including the Charlottesville Angel Network and CAV Angels are among other investors to join in this financing round led by the UVA LVG Seed Fund. The investment will further advance the technology through Investigational New Drug (IND) enabling studies and will position the company to enter Phase I clinical trials.

“The standard of care for patients with PAD has been stagnant since the 1990s, and Merand is well equipped with patented technology and an experienced leadership team to advance the treatment of this disease,” said Bob Creeden, Managing Director of the UVA LVG Seed Fund & New Ventures. “This investment aligns with our goal to further UVA discoveries toward commercial success.” 

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a common, progressive circulatory issue that affects over 200 million people globally. Patients who suffer from PAD experience reduced blood flow to the legs, caused by blockages in the arteries which causes pain and non-healing ulcers that often lead to amputation. The miR-93 technology has shown to promote angiogenesis, or the development of new blood vessels, which leads to restored blood flow.

The miR-93 therapeutic was discovered by a research team in the lab of UVA Cardiologist and Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine Dr. Brian Annex. During his tenure at UVA, he was awarded more than $3M from the NIH to study its role in growing and stabilizing functional blood vessels to increase perfusion recovery and reduce inflammation in PAD. Dr. Annex co-founded Merand Pharmaceuticals with industry veteran Tony Giordano, Ph.D., to pursue the commercial potential for the therapeutic.

Merand Pharmaceuticals is the eighth company to join the UVA LVG Seed Fund portfolio following the investment in Direct Spinal Therapeutics, Inc. in June 2019.

About University of Virginia Licensing & Ventures Group

The Licensing & Ventures Group is the University of Virginia’s intellectual property management and innovation commercialization organization with a mission of maximizing the impact of UVA innovation assets. Founded in 1977 as a 501(c)(3) UVA associated organization, UVA LVG received 238 invention disclosures, executed 78 commercial transactions, and launched 9 new companies in the fiscal year 2019.

UVA LVG created the UVA LVG Seed Fund with funding from the UVA Health System and unrestricted private funds to launch and support new ventures emerging from the University portfolio. UVA students, faculty, staff, and those who have completed the i.Lab program are eligible to receive funding and applications are accepted on a rolling basis. To apply and learn more, please visit lvg.virginia.edu.