Alnylam Announces Extension of RNAi Therapeutics Collaboration with Novartis
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALNY), a leading RNAi therapeutics company, announced today that Novartis has elected to extend the company's RNAi therapeutics collaboration for a fifth and final planned year, through October 2010. The landmark alliance was initiated in October 2005 and is focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of RNAi therapeutics toward a defined number of Novartis-selected disease gene targets.
"We are thrilled that Novartis has once again elected to extend our alliance, this time for a fifth and final planned year," said John Maraganore, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Alnylam. "This is the second extension that Novartis has elected to make, which we believe reflects the success of our collaborative efforts as well as the scientific progress we have made in advancing our innovative technology to patients. Novartis has been an industry pioneer in recognizing the potential of RNAi therapeutics as a new class of medicines, and we look forward to continuing our work with them."
In the Novartis-Alnylam collaboration, both companies are jointly responsible for RNAi discovery activities and Novartis is generally responsible for development and commercialization of RNAi therapeutic products. With the extension of the alliance term, Novartis will continue to fund collaboration research and development efforts conducted by Alnylam. Novartis retains its rights and conditions as per the original 2005 agreement. This includes a right to exercise a non-exclusive platform from Alnylam, in exchange for certain payments due upon platform license exercise, as well as an undisclosed payment and future milestones and royalties. Further, Novartis retains certain rights to purchase Alnylam equity up to its current ownership level which is approximately 13.4%.
About RNA Interference (RNAi)
RNAi (RNA interference) is a revolution in biology, representing a breakthrough in understanding how genes are turned on and off in cells, and a completely new approach to drug discovery and development. Its discovery has been heralded as "a major scientific breakthrough that happens once every decade or so," and represents one of the most promising and rapidly advancing frontiers in biology and drug discovery today which was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. RNAi is a natural process of gene silencing that occurs in organisms ranging from plants to mammals. By harnessing the natural biological process of RNAi occurring in our cells, the creation of a major new class of medicines, known as RNAi therapeutics, is on the horizon. RNAi therapeutics target the cause of diseases by potently silencing specific messenger RNAs (mRNAs), thereby preventing disease-causing proteins from being made. RNAi therapeutics have the potential to treat disease and help patients in a fundamentally new way.
About Alnylam Pharmaceuticals
Alnylam is a biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics based on RNA interference, or RNAi. The company is applying its therapeutic expertise in RNAi to address significant medical needs, many of which cannot effectively be addressed with small molecules or antibodies, the current major classes of drugs. Alnylam is leading the translation of RNAi as a new class of innovative medicines with peer-reviewed research efforts published in the world's top scientific journals including Nature, Nature Medicine, and Cell. The company is leveraging these capabilities to build a broad pipeline of RNAi therapeutics; its most advanced program is in Phase II human clinical trials for the treatment of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection and is partnered with Cubist and Kyowa Hakko Kirin. In addition, the company is developing RNAi therapeutics for the treatment of a wide range of disease areas, including liver cancers, hypercholesterolemia, Huntington's disease, and TTR amyloidosis. The company's leadership position in fundamental patents, technology, and know-how relating to RNAi has enabled it to form major alliances with leading companies including Medtronic, Novartis, Biogen Idec, Roche, Takeda, Kyowa Hakko Kirin, and Cubist. To reflect its outlook for key scientific, clinical, and business initiatives, Alnylam established "RNAi 2010" in January 2008 which includes the company's plan to significantly expand the scope of delivery solutions for RNAi therapeutics, have four or more programs in clinical development, and to form four or more new major business collaborations, all by the end of 2010. Alnylam and Isis are joint owners of Regulus Therapeutics Inc., a company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of microRNA-based therapeutics. Founded in 2002, Alnylam maintains headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information, please visit www.alnylam.com.
Alnylam Forward-Looking Statement
Various statements in this release concerning Alnylam's future expectations, plans and prospects, constitute forward-looking statements for the purposes of the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including risks related to whether Novartis successfully develops and commercializes any RNAi therapeutics as well as those risks more fully discussed in the "Risk Factors" section of its most recent quarterly report on Form 10-Q on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, any forward-looking statements represent Alnylam's views only as of today and should not be relied upon as representing its views as of any subsequent date. Alnylam does not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements.