Alnylam to pay $75M to settle legal squabble over Tekmira's RNAi delivery tech

The legal squabble between Tekmira Pharmaceuticals and Alnylam ($ALNY) over rights to the RNAi delivery technology Alnylam uses has been called off at the 11th hour. Alnylam is handing over $65 million in cash along with a potential $10 million near-term payout to resolve the showdown over the IP related to lipid nanoparticle technology.

That's nowhere close to the $1 billion Canada's Tekmira ($TKMR) had sought, claiming that Alnylam had violated patent and licensing agreements securing the LNP tech, which is used for ALN-TTR02, Alnylam's star RNAi therapeutic in development for the treatment of TTR-mediated amyloidosis. But the settlement gives Tekmira a substantial financial shot in the arm as it pursues its own development plans. Tekmira's lead oncology product, TKM-PLK1, will enter a Phase II trial in 2013 and the biotech recently landed a $120 million commitment from the Department of Defense to develop an ebola vaccine.

Tekmira shares soared 35% in early trading today as news of the settlement spread.

Alnylam, meanwhile, clears the air over the delivery technology, a big topic in RNAi circles, where doubts about delivery have plagued the whole field. Alnylam won over a group of analysts with positive early-stage results for ALN-TTR02 earlier this year, which some see as a potential blockbuster in the making.

"The settlement and restructuring announced yesterday gives us, and the entire RNAi field, clarity around the intellectual property that protects our lipid nanoparticle technology," said Tekmira CEO Dr. Mark J. Murray. "Building upon our strong balance sheet and accomplishments to date, we are confident that we can continue to create significant, sustainable value for our shareholders. With our cash runway now extending into 2015, we are excited about our plans to aggressively advance multiple products into human clinical trials."

"With this restructuring of our Tekmira relationship, we are gaining independence in our LNP manufacturing and decreasing the milestone and royalty burdens on several of our LNP-based products," said Alnylam COO Barry Greene in a statement. "Further, the companies have created clarity around the overall patent estate for LNP-based products, while ensuring Alnylam's full access to use this technology for our products in the future."

- here's Alnylam's release

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