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June 2, 2008
Volume 86, Number 22
p. 15

Drug Discovery

Alnylam And Takeda

RNAi specialist, Japanese drugmaker team up for Asian market in a deal worth up to $1 billion

Rick Mullin

U.S.-based Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical have formed an alliance to develop RNA interference (RNAi) therapies. Under the terms of the five-year agreement, which has a potential value of $1 billion, Takeda will become the only company in Asia licensed to develop and commercialize therapies using Alnylam's RNAi therapeutic development program.

RNAi is a drug discovery research technique that employs the body's natural mechanisms for inhibiting the expression of genes. According to Alnylam, RNAi therapeutics target the cause of disease by silencing specific messenger RNAs, thereby preventing disease-causing proteins from being made.

Takeda will pay $100 million up front and $50 million in near-term technology transfer payments for a nonexclusive license to Alnylam's RNAi technology platform in the areas of oncology and metabolic disease.

Alnylam is also eligible to receive R&D funding and up to $171 million in development and commercial milestone payments plus unspecified royalties per product. Alnylam will attain a 50-50 development and commercialization stake in Takeda's RNAi therapeutic programs in the U.S.

"As the first RNAi technology partnership with a pharmaceutical company located in Asia, this new alliance expands the advancement of RNAi therapeutics to patients on a global basis," says John Maraganore, CEO of Alnylam.

Alnylam has already benefited from the scramble by major drug companies to access RNAi technology. Last year, Switzerland's Roche agreed to pay upwards of $1 billion for access to Alnylam's platform, acquiring its Kulmbach, Germany, research facilities.

Meanwhile, Merck & Co. paid $1.1 billion to acquire the RNA interference firm Sirna Therapeutics, and AstraZeneca took a $10 million stake in Silence Therapeutics.

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Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2009 American Chemical Society

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