Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation announced today that they will jointly participate in a new research collaboration focused on the discovery of novel cationic lipids and lipid nanoparticles for the systemic delivery of RNAi therapeutics.
Under the terms of the two-year research collaboration, Alnylam will receive exclusive rights to all new inventions as well as rights to sublicense any resulting intellectual property to Alnylam’s current and future partners. Tekmira receives rights to use new inventions for their own RNAi therapeutic programs licensed under Alnylam intellectual property through its InterfeRxTM program.
“We are excited to participate with Tekmira to support research efforts that will focus on the discovery of novel lipids for nanoparticle-based formulations of RNAi therapeutics that we believe will have the potential to push the frontiers of systemic delivery to further improve potency and broaden biodistribution,” said Barry Greene, President and Chief Operating Officer of Alnylam.
The research collaboration will be funded by Alnylam and the work will be conducted by scientists at The University of British Columbia (UBC) and at a newly formed company called AlCana Technologies, Inc. UBC and AlCana will focus on generating novel cationic lipids to be evaluated in lipid nanoparticles for the systemic delivery of RNAi drugs.
“We’re pleased to continue our successful relationship with Alnylam and UBC in this new collaboration,” said Dr. Mark J. Murray, Tekmira’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “In the new effort, Alnylam and Tekmira will share in the development of new intellectual property that we believe will further extend our industry leadership position in the delivery of RNAi therapeutics.”
Alnylam and Tekmira have each advanced a systemic RNAi therapeutic program to the clinic using Tekmira’s stable nucleic acid lipid particle (SNALP) technology. Alnylam has an ongoing Phase I multi-center, open label, dose escalation trial to evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of ALN-VSP in patients with advanced solid tumors with liver involvement, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Tekmira has initiated a Phase I human clinical trial for ApoB SNALP, which is being developed as a treatment for patients with high LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol. Tekmira expects to complete the Phase I trial in early 2010.
About RNA Interference (RNAi)
RNAi (RNA interference) is a revolution in biology, representing a breakthrough in understanding how genes are turned on and off in cells, and a completely new approach to drug discovery and development. Its discovery has been heralded as “a major scientific breakthrough that happens once every decade or so,” and represents one of the most promising and rapidly advancing frontiers in biology and drug discovery today which was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. RNAi is a natural process of gene silencing that occurs in organisms ranging from plants to mammals. By harnessing the natural biological process of RNAi occurring in our cells, the creation of a major new class of medicines, known as RNAi therapeutics, is on the horizon. RNAi therapeutics target the cause of diseases by potently silencing specific messenger RNAs (mRNAs), thereby preventing disease-causing proteins from being made. RNAi therapeutics have the potential to treat disease and help patients in a fundamentally new way.
www.alnylam.com and www.tekmirapharm.com