Cartesian Therapeutics Wins Fourth NIH Grant for Clinical Trials of RNA Cell Therapies

Award increases NIH funding to $6.3 million to date from three independent NIH Institutes.

Gaithersburg, MD, May 4, 2021 – Cartesian Therapeutics, a fully integrated, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company pioneering RNA cell therapy in and beyond oncology, today announced a $2 million competitive R&D award from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support its clinical development for Descartes-30, the first RNA cell therapy for respiratory diseases.

This is the fourth Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant awarded to Cartesian to support its clinical-stage investigational therapies developed with the company’s proprietary RNA Armory® combination therapy platform.  Cartesian previously won research grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for Descartes-11 in multiple myeloma ($2.3 million) and from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for Descartes-08 in generalized myasthenia gravis ($2 million).

“We appreciate NIH’s recognition of the RNA Armory’s potential to treat a wide array of human disease,” said Murat Kalayoglu, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer at Cartesian Therapeutics.  “RNA cell therapy is a new class of therapy, combining the safety of conventional (nanoparticle-delivered) RNA therapeutics with the potency of conventional (DNA-engineered) cell therapies.  This new funding from NHLBI will accelerate our effort to bring RNA cell therapy to respiratory and critical care disease as we continue to demonstrate that cell therapy can expand beyond oncology.”

“The overarching vision behind our RNA Armory platform is to RNA-engineer any cell to express any desired combination of secreted and membrane-bound proteins,” said Michael Singer, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer at Cartesian Therapeutics.  “The cell – which we can target to any tissue of choice – allows us to deliver a multimodal biologic drug factory directly to the site of disease.”

Descartes-30 is an off-the-shelf mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy engineered to secrete two DNases that degrade neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs), which are key drivers of several respiratory, autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases.  The MSC acts both as a protein factory, by producing therapeutic DNases for an extended period, and as a vehicle to deliver those therapeutics directly to the lungs, where NETs accumulate.  Future clinical candidates aim to engineer three or more therapeutic and targeting proteins within a cell.

About Cartesian Therapeutics

Founded in 2016 and with three assets in clinical trials, Cartesian is the leader in RNA cell therapy.  Cartesian’s vision is to cure disease by RNA engineering any cell, to deliver to any tissue, any combination of therapies.  The company is pioneering RNA cell therapies in and beyond oncology, with products in development for autoimmune, oncologic and respiratory disorders.  All investigational therapies are manufactured at Cartesian’s wholly owned, state-of-the-art cGMP manufacturing facility in Gaithersburg, MD. For more information visit

Media Contacts:

Maggie Beller for Cartesian Therapeutics
Russo Partners, LLC


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