* Expects to close the deal in early July 2010
* MDRNA CEO to head combined entity
April 1 (Reuters) - MDRNA Inc MRNA.O said it agreed to buy privately held Cequent Pharmaceuticals for about $46 million in stock to expand its oncology pipeline.
MDRNA develops drugs based on RNA interference, or RNAi, which is designed to silence genes responsible for producing disease-causing proteins and is one of the hottest areas of biotechnology research.
The companies expect to close the merger in early July 2010, they said in a statement.
MDRNA Chief Executive Michael French will serve as the president and CEO of the combined entity.
Cequent will have certain cash amounts on hand at the close of the acquisition which will fund the combined operations into December 2010, the companies said.
Shares of the company closed at $1.10 Wednesday on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Anand Basu in Bangalore; Editing by Unnikrishnan Nair)