Now that Amgen and the Regeneron/Sanofi team have scored pioneering approvals of two leading PCSK9 therapies, the race is already on to top the leaders with a new wave of even better drugs that can slash levels of bad cholesterol more efficiently. And Alnylam, alongside its partners at The Medicines Company, has staked out a claim to an RNAi treatment that could beat them all--some 5 years down the road.
While many Big Pharma companies continued to whittle away at their multibillion-dollar R&D operations over the past year, laying off thousands of researchers, a group of midcap biotechs is helping to pick up the slack, according to a new report from GlobalData. And some big spenders like Regeneron and Alnylam led the way, helping drive up the group's total research spending by $2 billion, or 26%, to $9.7 billion.
Alnylam and Isis Pharmaceuticals announced an intellectual property cross-licensing agreement that they hope will leave them both better equipped to deal with the challenges of developing the first commercial RNAi therapy, including utilization of the promising but still-unproven RNA interference drug delivery pathway, and sometimes jittery investors.
Saying it is on track to exceed its goal of having 5 key products in clinical development through 2015, Alnylam recently announced that it intends to focus on three strategic therapeutic areas, or what it dubs "STArs," as it races to commercialize its first candidate delivered using the RNAi pathway and reassure sometimes antsy investors.
RNAi specialist Alnylam is focusing on rare diseases at the moment (with the exception of hepatitis B), but Chief Business Officer Laurence Reid told investors at the Leerink Rare Disease Roundtable conference that the company is also looking to enter bigger markets via partnerships.
Alnylam announced July 22 that its intellectual property estate has been strengthened due to the U.S. Patent Office's issuance of a Notice of Allowance for claims in one of its patent applications that covers "chemically modified RNA therapeutics conjugated with an N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc) ligand independent of length, sequence, or disease target," according to a statement.
Here at FierceDrugDelivery, we write often about innovations in nanotechnology as it becomes more and more important in the delivery field. These advances are mostly in the very early stages, but they're still promising as the delivery field moves even further into the nanoscale.
Sanofi is doubling down on its RNAi development deal with Alnylam. The pharma giant says it will pay a hefty premium to buy up a 12% stake in the biotech, investing $700 million and greatly expanding its rights to Alnylam's lead drug along with a portfolio of current and prospective therapies.
Gene-silencing expert Alnylam is $7 million richer thanks to some positive mid-stage results for its Genzyme-licensed RNA-interference candidate, and the Cambridge, MA, company is looking to be the first to market with the difficult-to-deliver class of treatments.
Alnylam, a specialist in RNAi drug delivery, welcomed positive results in an early-stage trial of its treatment designed to silence the gene that causes a rare, deadly form of the disease amyloidosis. The data establish human translation for Alnylam's conjugate delivery platform, the company says.