CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALNY) and Genzyme, a Sanofi company (EURONEXT: SAN and NYSE: SNY), announced today that they have formed an exclusive alliance to develop and commercialize RNAi therapeutics targeting transthyretin (TTR) for the treatment of transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis (ATTR) in Japan and other Asia-Pacific countries. ATTR is a rare, debilitating, hereditary disease that damages the nervous system and heart, resulting in a life expectancy of 5 to 15 years.
“Our ALN-TTR program holds promise as a breakthrough therapy for the treatment of ATTR, a debilitating orphan disease. As the lead program in our ‘Alnylam 5x15’ product strategy, we also view this program as a key part of building Alnylam for the future,” said John Maraganore, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Alnylam. “In this important collaboration, Genzyme will advance our ALN-TTR program with their proven capabilities in the Japanese and broader Asian market, while we maintain our plans to develop and commercialize this potential breakthrough medicine in the U.S., Europe, and rest of world. In addition, a key part of the value proposition in this alliance for Alnylam is the potential for significant royalty payments on sales of products.”
ATTR is an endemic disease in Japan, with a significant number of patients carrying the V30M TTR mutation which leads to onset of a severe form of ATTR known as familial amyloidotic polyneuropathy (FAP). Together, Alnylam and Genzyme intend to maximize the value of ALN-TTR worldwide by developing the program in FAP and other ATTR indications, such as familial amyloidotic cardiomyopathy (FAC) and senile systemic amyloidosis (SSA). Alnylam’s ALN-TTR program currently includes ALN-TTR02, which is in a Phase II clinical trial, and ALN-TTRsc, a subcutaneously administered RNAi therapeutic in late stage pre-clinical development.
Under the terms of the agreement, Genzyme will make an upfront cash payment of $22.5 million to Alnylam. The agreement also includes development milestone payments and tiered royalties expected to yield an effective rate in the mid-teens to mid-twenties on Genzyme’s sales of ALN-TTR products in their territory. In addition, each party will be responsible for the development and commercialization activities in their respective territories.
“We are encouraged by Alnylam’s progress with their ALN-TTR program and are excited by the potential for this innovative drug candidate to make a difference in the lives of patients with ATTR. The results to date demonstrate impressive clinical activity and support advancement of this promising therapeutic into pivotal studies and toward the market,” said David Meeker, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Genzyme. “As we work to build our pipeline through both internal research and development, and through external collaborations, we look forward to working with Alnylam on this important program.”
Recently, Alnylam presented positive clinical results from its ALN-TTR02 Phase I trial demonstrating robust and unprecedented knockdown of serum TTR protein levels of up to 94%; the overall results were highly significant (p<0.00001 by ANOVA). Suppression of TTR, the disease-causing protein in ATTR, was found to be rapid, dose dependent, durable, and specific after just a single dose. The drug was generally safe and well tolerated in this Phase I study. Alnylam is currently enrolling patients in a Phase II multi-dose study of ALN-TTR02 in ATTR patients and aims to initiate a Phase III pivotal study of ALN-TTR02 by the end of 2013.
Transthyretin (TTR)-mediated amyloidosis (ATTR) is a hereditary, systemic disease caused by mutations in the TTR gene. TTR protein is produced primarily in the liver and is normally a carrier for thyroid hormones and retinol binding proteins. Mutations in TTR cause abnormal amyloid proteins to accumulate and damage body organs and tissue, such as the peripheral nerves and heart, resulting in intractable peripheral sensory neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, and/or cardiomyopathy. ATTR represents a major unmet medical need with significant morbidity and mortality; FAP affects approximately 10,000 people worldwide and FAC affects at least 40,000 people worldwide. FAP patients have a mean life expectancy of five to 15 years from symptom onset, and the only treatment options for early stage disease are liver transplantation and tafamidis (approved in Europe). As a result, there is a significant need for novel therapeutics to treat patients who have inherited mutations in the TTR gene.
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. Small interfering RNA (siRNA), the molecules that mediate RNAi and comprise Alnylam’s RNAi therapeutic platform, target the cause of diseases by potently silencing specific 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.
About Alnylam Pharmaceuticals
Alnylam is a biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics based on RNA interference, or RNAi. The company is leading the translation of RNAi as a new class of innovative medicines with a core focus on RNAi therapeutics for the treatment of genetically defined diseases, including ALN-TTR for the treatment of transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis (ATTR), ALN-AT3 for the treatment of hemophilia, ALN-PCS for the treatment of severe hypercholesterolemia, ALN-HPN for the treatment of refractory anemia, and ALN-TMP for the treatment of hemoglobinopathies. As part of its “Alnylam 5x15TM” strategy, the company expects to have five RNAi therapeutic products for genetically defined diseases in clinical development, including programs in advanced stages, on its own or with a partner by the end of 2015. Alnylam has additional partnered programs in clinical or development stages, including ALN-RSV01 for the treatment of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection, ALN-VSP for the treatment of liver cancers, and ALN-HTT for the treatment of Huntington’s disease. The company’s leadership position on RNAi therapeutics and intellectual property have enabled it to form major alliances with leading companies including Merck, Medtronic, Novartis, Biogen Idec, Roche, Takeda, Kyowa Hakko Kirin, Cubist, Ascletis, Monsanto and Genzyme. In addition, Alnylam and Isis co-founded Regulus Therapeutics Inc., a company focused on discovery, development, and commercialization of microRNA therapeutics; Regulus has formed partnerships with GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi, AstraZeneca and Biogen Idec. Alnylam has also formed Alnylam Biotherapeutics, a division of the company focused on the development of RNAi technologies for applications in biologics manufacturing, including recombinant proteins and monoclonal antibodies. Alnylam’s VaxiRNA™ platform applies RNAi technology to improve the manufacturing processes for vaccines; GlaxoSmithKline is a collaborator in this effort. Alnylam scientists and collaborators have published their research on RNAi therapeutics in over 100 peer-reviewed papers, including many in the world’s top scientific journals such as Nature, Nature Medicine, Nature Biotechnology, and Cell. Founded in 2002, Alnylam maintains headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information, please visit www.alnylam.com.
Alnylam Forward-Looking Statements
Various statements in this release concerning Alnylam’s future expectations, plans and prospects, including without limitation, statements regarding Alnylam’s views with respect to the potential for RNAi therapeutics, including the potential for ALN-TTR02 and ALN-TTRsc, its expectations regarding the receipt upfront, and potential development milestone and royalty payments under the Genzyme agreement, its expectations regarding the market opportunity for ALN-TTR, including in Japan, its expectations with respect to the timing and success of its clinical trials for ALN-TTR02, including the possible initiation of a Phase III pivotal trial, and the expected timing of an IND filing for ALN-TTRsc, and Alnylam’s expectations regarding its “Alnylam 5x15” product strategy, constitute forward-looking statements for the purposes of the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including, without limitation, Genzyme’s ability to successfully advance ALN-TTR02 and/or ALN-TTRsc in Japan and other Asian countries including China, Australia, and India, as well as Alnylam’s ability to develop ALN-TTR02 and/or ALN-TTRsc in the rest of the world, resulting in the potential payment of development milestones and royalties to Alnylam, Alnylam’s ability to successfully demonstrate the efficacy and safety of its drug candidates, the pre-clinical and clinical results for these product candidates, which may not support further development of such product candidates, actions of regulatory agencies, which may affect the initiation, timing and progress of clinical trials for such product candidates, obtaining, maintaining and protecting intellectual property, obtaining regulatory approval for products, competition from others using technology similar to Alnylam’s and others developing products for similar uses, and Alnylam’s ability to establish and maintain strategic business alliances, including its collaboration with Genzyme, and new business initiatives, as well as those risks more fully discussed in the “Risk Factors” section of its most recent quarterly report on Form 10-Q on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, any forward-looking statements represent Alnylam’s views only as of today and should not be relied upon as representing its views as of any subsequent date. Alnylam does not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements.
About Genzyme, a Sanofi Company
Genzyme has pioneered the development and delivery of transformative therapies for patients affected by rare and debilitating diseases for over 30 years. We accomplish our goals through world-class research and with the compassion and commitment of our employees. With a focus on rare diseases and multiple sclerosis, we are dedicated to making a positive impact on the lives of the patients and families we serve. That goal guides and inspires us every day. Genzyme’s portfolio of transformative therapies, which are marketed in countries around the world, represents groundbreaking and life-saving advances in medicine. As a Sanofi company, Genzyme benefits from the reach and resources of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, with a shared commitment to improving the lives of patients. Learn more at www.genzyme.com.
Sanofi Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended. Forward-looking statements are statements that are not historical facts. These statements include projections and estimates and their underlying assumptions, statements regarding plans, objectives, intentions and expectations with respect to future financial results, events, operations, services, product development and potential, and statements regarding future performance. Forward-looking statements are generally identified by the words “expects”, “anticipates”, “believes”, “intends”, “estimates”, “plans” and similar expressions. Although Sanofi’s management believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, investors are cautioned that forward-looking information and statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and generally beyond the control of Sanofi, that could cause actual results and developments to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied or projected by, the forward-looking information and statements. These risks and uncertainties include among other things, the uncertainties inherent in research and development, future clinical data and analysis, including post marketing, decisions by regulatory authorities, such as the FDA or the EMA, regarding whether and when to approve any drug, device or biological application that may be filed for any such product candidates as well as their decisions regarding labelling and other matters that could affect the availability or commercial potential of such product candidates, the absence of guarantee that the product candidates if approved will be commercially successful, the future approval and commercial success of therapeutic alternatives, the Group’s ability to benefit from external growth opportunities, trends in exchange rates and prevailing interest rates, the impact of cost containment policies and subsequent changes thereto, the average number of shares outstanding as well as those discussed or identified in the public filings with the SEC and the AMF made by Sanofi, including those listed under “Risk Factors” and “Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” in Sanofi’s annual report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2011. Other than as required by applicable law, Sanofi does not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking information or statements.