I'm way behind on this story but want to document it for the record here (so I can find it again). Certainly in a series of wonderful events (for them) Alnylam announced two important deals in RNAi that are noteworthy for the industry and perhaps validate that this technology is NOW ready to makes its move after several fits and starts -- and after several BIG Pharma types have left it by the side of the road for dead.
First off, Alnylam scored with a $175 M purchase of Sirna Therapeutics RNAi program from Merck. Merck in 2006 paid $1.1 B for this asset. The deep discount could be a real steal for Alnylam. Merck spins it that the Sirna sale represents its selling off non-core assets to focus on its knitting as it tries to save its way to prosperity by cutting R&D expenses by $2.5 B by 2015. See Fierce Biotech and InPharmaTechnologist to see full details of the deal and Merck spin for how this is a good thing for them.
The second big piece of news that Alnylam and Sanofi (Genzyme division) concluded a deal whereby Sanofi invested $700 M in Alnylam to obtain 12% of the company. Sanofi will also gain more marketing rights for the lead candidate to treat TTR-familial amyloid neuropathy -- a rare disease right in the Genzyme wheelhouse. This indicates that Sanofi believes some of the impediments preventing successful development of RNAi based drugs have been overcome.
Genzyme is also getting rights to a number of other Alnylam drug candidates. It’s got the option to acquire either worldwide rights or co-commercialization rights to two other unspecified Alnylam drug candidates once early clinical studies on them are completed. Genzyme also has the option, up until 2020, to develop and sell all products Alnylam is developing to treat rare genetic diseases everywhere except North America and Western Europe. All in all a really good weekend for Alnylam and RNAi. See Xconomy and Fierce Biotech for more details.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Jan 16th 2014.