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Alnylam, GSK team up in new collaboration
11-02-2011
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. RNAi therapeutics company Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have announced the formation of a collaboration between their two companies, centered on Alnylam's VaxiRNA technology for specific GSK vaccine products, including influenza. Initially, the collaboration will focus on influenza vaccine production in cell culture systems.  
 
"As we advance our VaxiRNA effort, we are excited to form a new collaboration with GSK, a global leader and innovator in vaccine development and manufacturing," John Maraganore, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Alnylam, said in a press release. "With GSK, we aim to apply VaxiRNA technology to enhance influenza vaccine production in cell culture, where Alnylam will receive research funding, in addition to potential milestones and payments on unit sales of commercialized vaccine product."
 
Per the terms of the agreement, GSK will provide funding and will also make certain milestone payments to Alnylam. If the collaboration leads successfully to the manufacturing of a commercial product, Alnylam will also receive payments on unit product sales. Through the agreement, GSK has also gained an option for VaxiRNA applications toward two other vaccine products. Financial details for the collaboration were not disclosed.  
 
VaxiRNA, Alnylam's new RNAi technology, is meant for the enhanced production of viruses used in manufacturing vaccine products. GSK is the first company that has formed a collaboration that accesses Alnylam's new platform.  
 
"At Alnylam, we continue to pioneer innovative opportunities for our RNAi platform that could have transformative impact in medicine and the biopharmaceutical industry. This is exemplified with VaxiRNA, where siRNA technology is being used to increase virus titers in the production of vaccine products," Maraganore said in a press release. "Since production of vaccines can be limiting for the scale and speed of global immunization against many pathogens, including influenza, we believe that VaxiRNA can become an enabling technology for the broader vaccine industry."  
 
Alnylam's VaxiRNA process relies on the use of siRNAs. Alnylam utilizes siRNAs that silence certain genes in vaccine production systems, such as cells or eggs, which are responsible for limiting or preventing the growth of viruses used in manufacturing vaccine products. The platform has resulted in part from work the company performed as part of its Alnylam Biotherapeutics efforts, in which RNAi technology was applied to improve the manufacture of biotherapeutic products. Alnylam's new platform works to target the significant unmet need that exists commercially for technologies that can improve vaccine product manufacturing.  
 
RNA interference (RNAi) is a natural biological process of gene silencing, and it is possible to harness the process for use in therapeutics. Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are the basis of Alnylam 's RNAi therapeutic platform, and these molecules mediate RNAi and target the cause of diseases by silencing specific mRNAs, which in turn prevents disease-causing proteins from being made.  
 
 
SOURCE: Alnylam press release
 
Code: E11021101

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