Roche establishes RNAi center

Continuing its expansion in the RNAi marketplace, Roche Holdings

Randall C Willis
NUTLEY, N.J.—Continuing its expansion in the RNAi marketplace, Roche Holdings announced it entered into an R&D alliance with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, covering four therapeutic areas initially: oncology, respiratory disease, metabolic disease, and specific liver diseases. The alliance will also see Roche acquire Alnylam's Kulmbach, Germany research site, which it will turn into a center of excellence for RNAi therapeutics discovery. The deal could be worth $1 billion.
 
"We look forward to working together to advance our transformative technology into a whole new class of drugs," said Dr. John Maraganore, Alnylam president and CEO. "Such significant support from Roche will also strengthen Alnylam's efforts to build a leading innovation-based biopharmaceutical company."
 
In exchange for a non-exclusive license to a range of RNAi-related IP, Alnylam will receive $331 million upfront in cash payments and a 5% equity investment, as well as the standard milestone payments and royalties on sales of commercialized products. Alnylam also retains the rights to non-exclusively license the IP to additional partners in other agreements.
 
Also as a result of the deal, Alnylam will pay Isis Pharmaceuticals $26.5 million in upfront fees and equity premium as part of a strategic alliance the two companies signed in 2004. "Working together we have made significant advances in RNAi technology and in creating drugs from this technology platform," says Isis chair and CEO Dr. Stan Crooke. "Isis has benefited substantially from Alnylam's business development and financial successes. We look forward to additional successes from this valuable strategic relationship."

Randall C Willis

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