Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Alnylam and Takeda Form Strategic Worldwide Platform Alliance in RNAi Therapeutics

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALNY) and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited recently announced that they have formed a strategic platform alliance in RNAi therapeutics in the fields of oncology and metabolic disease with the option to expand to additional therapeutic areas. This alliance is the first major RNAi therapeutics partnership between a Japanese pharmaceutical company and a U.S. biotechnology company, representing a new frontier in the advancement of RNAi therapeutics to patients on a global basis.

The cost? $100 million to play, $50M in technology transfers and options/extras for a non-exclusive license in two therapeutic fields that is valued at potentially over $1 billion in future research and development and commercial milestones, upon successful commercialization of multiple products. Wow, that's some deal for an unproven technology and a company with a poor pipeline clearly needs to spend it's way out of the hole.

So what exactly is RNAi? Well, it is a new approach for the discovery of breakthrough medicines that utilises a natural mechanism found within the body to inhibit expression of certain genes. Harnessing the activity of RNAi may create an opportunity to develop specific and potent new medicines for the treatment of a broad range of diseases, including those that are difficult to treat with today’s drug approaches. The discovery of RNAi was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize and the advancement of RNAi is recognized as one of the most important advances in biomedical sciences in decades.

This collaboration clearly shows that Takeda means business and provides the company with broad, worldwide, non-exclusive access to and enablement with Alnylam’s RNAi therapeutics platform technology and intellectual property in the fields of oncology and metabolic disease, with the right to expand the number of therapeutic fields in the future. The agreement also includes the transfer of platform technology from Alnylam to Takeda, a collaboration and cross-license of delivery technologies between the two companies, and a drug discovery collaboration on certain RNAi therapeutic targets, subject to certain Alnylam third party obligations.

Takeda becomes Alnylam’s strategic partner for RNAi therapeutics over a five-year period and the only Asian company to obtain a right of first negotiation to develop and commercialize Alnylam RNAi therapeutic development programs for the Asian market, excluding Alnylam’s ALN-RSV01 program. In addition, Alnylam obtains opt-in options to co-develop and co-commercialize Takeda RNAi therapeutic programs in the U.S. market on a 50-50 basis.

At Takeda’s option, the scope of the partnership can be expanded to include additional fields with a $50 million per field expansion payment. Alnylam is also eligible to receive research and development funding related to the drug discovery collaboration. In addition, Alnylam is eligible to receive up to $171 million in development and commercial milestone payments and significant royalties per product. Alnylam plans to update financial guidance when it announces its second quarter 2008 financial results.

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