LOS ANGELES, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 02/04/13 -- As we told our readers last week, industry observers and Wall Street Analysts both feel that the RNAi space will heat up significantly in 2013. To that point, both Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc and Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation (NASDAQ: TKMR) (TSX: TKM) started February off with news.
First, Alnylam announced that it has licensed its PCS cholesterol program to the Medicines Company for $25 million upfront and $180 million in future milestones. The most advanced program in the PCS cholesterol program is ALN-PCS02 which uses Tekmira's lipid nanoparticle delivery technology. As we told our readers last week, Tekmira is entitled to a royalty in future sales of the product. Alnylam delivered positive Phase I data for ALN-PCS02 in 2012 using healthy volunteers, That data demonstrated the potential to lower LDL cholesterol levels by 50% after just one injection.
This is the Medicines Company's first foray into RNAi therapeutics, but it joins a long and validating list of high profile companies including, Genzyme, Novartis, Takeda, and Monsanto to name a few, who have made investments in this emerging area of drug development.
"Taking out PCSK9 proteins robs the body of a key ingredient for cholesterol synthesis, reducing 'bad' LDL cholesterol and lowering risk of heart disease. That is the promise that drives some of the biggest drugmakers on earth bonkers about this target," reports Ryan McBride of FierceBiotech.
"For Alnylam, this new partnership enables the advancement of ALN-PCS, an important program within our 'Alnylam 5x15' product development and commercialization strategy focused on RNAi therapeutics directed toward genetically validated targets. We believe that the ALN-PCS program holds great promise for the development of a significant therapeutic option for patients with hypercholesterolemia, and that the unique mechanism of action for ALN-PCS could provide a differentiated and potentially best-in-class strategy for PCSK9 antagonism," said John Maraganore, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Alnylam.
An estimated 9 million Americans are deemed at high or very high risk of heart-related problems, and could benefit most from PCSK9 drugs added to statins. And at least another 1 million could use them instead of statins.
As biotech companies like Amarin and Neptune Technologies (NASDAQ: NEPT) push forward on their commercialization and development of new drugs marked with significantly less side-effects to treat Cardiovascular disease, the illness remains the leading cause of mortality worldwide, with elevated LDL-C a major modifiable risk factor.
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