miRagen Therapeutics Announces Company Name Change to Viridian Therapeutics and New Executive Appointments, Including Expansion of Leadership Team

  • Jonathan Violin, Ph.D., M.B.A. appointed President, CEO and director 

  • Barrett Katz, M.D., M.B.A. joins Viridian as Chief Medical Officer

  • Viridian is developing VRDN-001 and VRDN-002 for the treatment of thyroid eye disease

  • Company recently licensed exclusive rights from Xencor, Inc. to develop and commercialize therapeutic antibodies targeting IGF-1R incorporating Xtend™ Fc half-life extension technology

BOULDER, Colo., Jan. 19, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- miRagen Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: MGEN), a development-stage biotechnology company, today announced its name change to Viridian Therapeutics, Inc. (“Viridian”).   Beginning tomorrow, Viridian will trade on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol "VRDN" and its common stock will trade under a new CUSIP number, 92790C104.

The Company also announced today the appointment of Jonathan Violin, Ph.D., M.B.A. as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and member of the Board of Directors.   Dr. Violin, who previously served as Viridian’s President and Chief Operating Officer (COO), succeeds Lee Rauch as CEO and member of the Board of Directors.   Ms. Rauch will remain as strategic advisor for the Company.

In addition, Viridian appointed internationally recognized neuro-ophthalmologist, Barrett Katz M.D., M.B.A., as Chief Medical Officer (CMO).   Dr. Katz comes to Viridian from BridgeBio Pharma, Inc. where he developed therapeutics to treat orphan eye diseases.

“The leadership team changes and Viridian Therapeutics name reflect the continuing evolution of the company and our patient-centric model of innovation,” said Dr. Violin.   “We’re leveraging proven biology and technology to efficiently allocate research and development resources, while addressing strategic gaps related to access, delivery, quality of life, and efficacy.   We are thrilled to attract someone with Dr. Katz’s depth of expertise in serving patients and leading scientific and clinical programs.”

During his tenure at BridgeBio, Dr. Katz held leadership positions in two subsidiaries, as President and CMO of Retinagenix and CEO of Fortify Therapeutics.   Prior to BridgeBio, he was CMO at GenSight Biologics where he oversaw early- and late-stage clinical programs.   He held the Francis DeJur Chair of Ophthalmology at the Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, where he also served as Professor of Ophthalmology, Neurology and Neurosurgery, as well as the Executive Director of the Office of Clinical Trials.   He previously served as CEO of Danube Pharmaceuticals, CMO of Fovea Pharmaceuticals and VP for Medical Affairs and Strategy at Eyetech.   Dr. Katz received an M.D. from Case-Western Reserve University School of Medicine, an M.B.A. from the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business, and an A.B. from Colgate University.

Prior to co-founding privately held Viridian Therapeutics, Dr. Violin had founded and served as CEO of two virtual drug discovery companies, Quellis Biosciences and Dianthus Therapeutics, and co-founded and held several executive positions at Trevena, Inc.   He holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, an M.B.A. from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, and a B.S. from Duke University.

Viridian is developing multiple product candidates to treat patients who suffer from thyroid eye disease (TED), a debilitating orphan disease that can cause bulging eyes, or proptosis, as well as double vision and potential blindness.   TED significantly impacts quality of life, imposing a high physical and mental burden on patients.   There is currently one Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved treatment for TED, an intravenously administered monoclonal antibody that targets the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R).

“Patients with TED have limited treatment options,” said Dr. Katz.  “Viridian has a clear and compelling strategy to better serve these patients. I am delighted to help build upon the Company’s recent momentum and eager to design and implement robust clinical programs for our lead product candidates.”

Viridian’s most advanced product candidate is VRDN-001, an intravenously administered anti-IGF-1R monoclonal antibody which, the Company expects to proceed directly to a phase 2 trial, pending feedback from the FDA. In October, the Company obtained exclusive worldwide rights from ImmunoGen, Inc. to develop and commercialize VRDN-001 for all non-oncology indications that do not use radiopharmaceuticals, including the treatment of TED.

VRDN-002 is the Company’s second-generation product candidate, incorporating half-life extension technology, and is intended for subcutaneous administration. Viridian holds exclusive rights to develop and commercialize antibody therapeutics targeting IGF-1R using the XtendTM half-life extension technology developed and owned by Xencor, Inc.

In the second half of 2021, Viridian expects to file Investigational New Drug (IND) applications for both VRDN-001 and VRDN-002.

About Viridian Therapeutics

Viridian Therapeutics is a biotechnology company advancing new treatments for patients suffering from serious diseases but underserved by today’s therapies. Viridian’s most advanced program, VRDN-001, is a clinical-stage anti-IGF-1R monoclonal antibody in development for thyroid eye disease (TED). Viridian is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, with research and development operations in Waltham, Massachusetts. Learn more about Viridian and our programs at viridiantherapeutics.com. Follow us on Twitter @ViridianThera and on LinkedIn.

Forward Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.   These statements may be identified by the use of words such as, but not limited to, "anticipate," "believe," "continue," "could," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "may," "might," "plan," "potential," "predict," "project," "should," "target," "will," or "would" or other similar terms or expressions that concern Viridian’s expectation, strategy, plans or intentions. Forward looking statements include, without limitation, statements regarding the Company’s future research and clinical development plans and the potential commencement of the Company’s Phase 2 clinical trial and the timing for any of these events. Forward-looking statements are neither historical facts nor assurances of future performance. Instead, they are based on our current beliefs, expectations and assumptions regarding the future of our business, future plans and strategies, our clinical results and other future conditions. New risks and uncertainties may emerge from time to time, and it is not possible to predict all risks and uncertainties. No representations or warranties (expressed or implied) are made about the accuracy of any such forward-looking statements. We may not actually achieve the forecasts disclosed in our forward-looking statements, and you should not place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are subject to a number of material risks and uncertainties including but not limited to those set forth under the caption “Risk Factors” in Viridian’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on November 12, 2020 and in other filings Viridian makes with the SEC from time to time.   Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which it was made. Neither we, nor our affiliates, advisors or representatives, undertake any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.   These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing our views as of any date subsequent to the date hereof.

Viridian Contacts:

Dan Ferry
LifeSci Advisors

Darby Pearson
Verge Scientific Communications