A deal has been reached which will see plans to manufacture a new class of gene-blocking drugs become a reality, it has been announced.
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals announced the £500 million drug-licensing partnership with Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical Company – an agreement similar to a deal it reached last summer with Switzerland-based Roche.
Osaka-based Takeda, Japan’s largest drugmaker, will pay Alnylam £75 million up front for the use of its technology to experiment on cancer and metabolic diseases, increasing payments if the work yields new medicines.
There is growing interest among traditional pharmaceutical companies in the development of so-called RNA interference technology – a technique for blocking human genes from making protein.
Founded by Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Phillip Sharp, Alnylam holds patents for uses of molecules called small interfering RNAs, or siRNAs. The company is experimenting with these siRNAs to treat Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, liver, brain and lung viruses, and other difficult to treat conditions.
“Takeda recognised the future of medicine and innovation relies on RNAi therapeutics,” Alnylam president Barry Greene said. “I am confident that with partnering with Takeda and innovative approaches, we will see drugs for oncology and metabolic diseases in fairly short order.”
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