Collaboration gives Novartis gains 20% stake in Alnylam

Swiss drug maker Novartis has struck a deal to take a 20 percent stake in Alnylam as part of a new collaboration. Alnylam will gain $56.8 million in initial payments and up to $700 million in milestones, along with additional royalties from any successful commercialization effort. Investors were quick to take notice, bidding up Alnylam's stock by 36 percent in early trading. Alnylam has been involved in developing RNAi technology to silence disease-causing genes.

"RNAi holds great promise as a new therapeutic modality for treating many diseases. In particular, this exciting new area of biology has potential to target diseases that cannot be addressed by traditional approaches. This collaboration complements our robust small molecule and antibody-based research programs and will advance our efforts to develop innovative medicines for patients," said Dr. Mark Fishman, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research.

- read this report from MarketWatch for more