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Alnylam to align with West Coast firm on hep C treatment

Boston Business Journal

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. and a California company have signed a joint licensing deal for a gene that could help treat hepatitis C.

The Cambridge, Mass. company (Nasdaq: ALNY) and Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Carlsbad (Nasdaq: ISIS) announced on Tuesday that they inked a combined licensing agreement with Stanford University.

They’ll gain co-exclusive access to Stanford research regarding a MicroRNA gene found to be needed to replicate the hepatitis C virus in mammalian cells.

Researchers hope the discovery could lead to treatments for hepatitis C, a viral infection of the liver that can cause cirrhosis and liver cancer. Researchers estimate 170 million people globally have hepatitis c infections. Vaccines don’t exist yet to prevent the disease.

Alnylam announced on Sept. 7 that it had signed a multi-year alliance with Novartis AG that could be worth more than $700 million if the deal produces commercial products.

Alnylam and Novartis (NYSE: NVS) will work on developing RNAi therapies. RNAi is a natural process within cells that selectively silences genes, and Alnylam believes RNAi can treat disease by silencing genes that cause disease.

In the short term, Novartis will pay Alnylam $56.8 million, through cash and a purchase of 4.2 shares of Alnylam common stock.

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