Alnylam licenses Kreutzer-Limmer patent to Eurogentec

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—February 28, 2006—Continuing its efforts with the Kreutzer-Limmer patents for siRNA products, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals announced it has granted Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT) a non-exclusive license to provide RNAi research products and services under this patent family. According to Dr. Roland Kreutzer, managing director of Alnylam Europe AG, this brings the number of license agreements Alnylam has executed granting rights to 20, including 11 with research product suppliers.
SERAING, Belgium–Alnylam Pharmaceuticals announced in mid-July that it granted a nonexclusive license to Eurogentec for using Alnylam's Kreutzer-Limmer patent family to develop research products and services that involve RNA interference (RNAi).
Nagesh Mahanthappa, senior director of business development and strategy at Alnylam, says the Eurogentec license demonstrates Alnylam's strategy of realizing value from its intellectual property portfolio, which includes various patents and patent families. Alnylam has granted 13 licenses to Kreutzer-Limmer, including an agreement with Sigma-Aldrich Corp. that was also announced in July. "Those agreements are comparable," says Mahanthappa. "We've actually struck four reagent license deals this year. While we have not disclosed the financial aspects of those deals, they are nonexclusive, they allow those companies to sell reagents under the Kreutzer-Limmer patent family. The nature of those agreements is they last as long as the patents last" or until the companies no longer want them.
Eurogentec CEO Jean-Pierre Delwart says "the significant and growing number of companies that have taken licenses for therapeutic or research product applications" from Kreutzer-Limmer illustrate its value. Eurogentec's agreement, he says, "provides Eurogentec with a worldwide license to research, develop, produce, and sell products, kits, and reagents covered by the patents." It also strengthens the legal framework for Eurogentec's custom short interfering RNA (siRNA) business activity as the company plans to develop sales of custom synthetic small RNA to researchers. The license extends a "long-term excellent relationship we have with both the U.S. and European branches of Alnylam," says Delwart.
In 2005 Alnylam has also granted two licenses for Kreutzer-Limmer-related therapeutics, says Mahanthappa, though Alnylam's "InterfeRx" program answers inquiries about licenses for developing therapeutics on a gene-by-gene basis. Seattle-based Nastech Pharmaceutical Company, for example, recently signed an InterfeRx agreement for working with RNAi therapeutics against TNF-alpha, a protein associated with inflammatory diseases.
While Alnylam is open to granting licenses based on its IP, Mahanthappa stressed Alnylam is still firmly focused on its own drug discovery and commercialization efforts. "Therapeutics is what [Alnylam] is about," he says, so the company looks carefully at each InterfeRx case to ensure that any exclusive, gene-specific licenses for therapeutics do not conflict with Alnylam's strategic focus. Mahanthappa says Alnylam uses siRNA molecules as therapeutic agents in research programs focused on age-related macular degeneration, spinal cord injury, and cystic fibrosis.
Delwart says the siRNA breakthrough will help Eurogentec build value for now and the future, leveraging its decade-long experience synthesizing high-quality RNA for its customers. RNA, he says, is a growing business for the company, and "having this license is what will help us to continue our growth." Delwart cited fluorescent probes for qPCR as another Eurogentec growth area.
Alnylam employs 75 people in the U.S. and Germany; its therapeutic programs include collaborations with Merck, Medtronic, and Mayo Clinic. Approximately 290 people work at Eurogentec locations in Europe, North America, and Asia. The company spun off from the University of Liège in 1985; its two business units cover biologics and tools for genomics and proteomics.

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