CAMBRIDGE, Mass.— RNAi therapeutics company AlnylamPharmaceuticals, Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have announced the formation ofa collaboration between their two companies, centered on Alnylam's VaxiRNAtechnology for specific GSK vaccine products, including influenza. Initially,the collaboration will focus on influenza vaccine production in cell culturesystems.
"As we advance our VaxiRNA effort, we are excited toform a new collaboration with GSK, a global leader and innovator in vaccinedevelopment and manufacturing," John Maraganore, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officerof Alnylam, said in a press release. "With GSK, we aim to apply VaxiRNAtechnology to enhance influenza vaccine production in cell culture, whereAlnylam will receive research funding, in addition to potential milestones andpayments on unit sales of commercialized vaccine product."
Per the terms of the agreement, GSK will provide funding andwill also make certain milestone payments to Alnylam. If the collaborationleads successfully to the manufacturing of a commercial product, Alnylam willalso receive payments on unit product sales. Through the agreement, GSK hasalso gained an option for VaxiRNA applications toward two other vaccineproducts. Financial details for the collaboration were not disclosed.
VaxiRNA, Alnylam's new RNAi technology, is meant for theenhanced production of viruses used in manufacturing vaccine products. GSK isthe first company that has formed a collaboration that accesses Alnylam's newplatform.
"At Alnylam, we continue to pioneer innovativeopportunities for our RNAi platform that could have transformative impact inmedicine and the biopharmaceutical industry. This is exemplified with VaxiRNA,where siRNA technology is being used to increase virus titers in the productionof vaccine products," Maraganore said in a press release. "Since production ofvaccines can be limiting for the scale and speed of global immunization againstmany pathogens, including influenza, we believe that VaxiRNA can become anenabling technology for the broader vaccine industry."
Alnylam's VaxiRNA process relies on the use of siRNAs.Alnylam utilizes siRNAs that silence certain genes in vaccine productionsystems, such as cells or eggs, which are responsible for limiting or preventingthe growth of viruses used in manufacturing vaccine products. The platform hasresulted in part from work the company performed as part of its AlnylamBiotherapeutics efforts, in which RNAi technology was applied to improve themanufacture of biotherapeutic products. Alnylam's new platform works to targetthe significant unmet need that exists commercially for technologies that canimprove vaccine product manufacturing.
RNA interference (RNAi) is a natural biological process ofgene silencing, and it is possible to harness the process for use intherapeutics. Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are the basis of Alnylam's RNAitherapeutic platform, and these molecules mediate RNAi and target the cause ofdiseases by silencing specific mRNAs, which in turn prevents disease-causingproteins from being made.
SOURCE: Alnylam press release