Roche Enters RNAi Therapeutics Race

July 24, 2007
BioPharm International Editors

Roche (Basel, Switzerland, www.roche.com) and the biopharmaceutical company Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, www.alnylam.com), have entered into a major alliance in which Roche obtains a nonexclusive license to Alnylam's technology platform for developing RNAi (RNA interference) therapeutics.

Roche (Basel, Switzerland, www.roche.com) and the biopharmaceutical company Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, www.alnylam.com), have entered into a major alliance in which Roche obtains a nonexclusive license to Alnylam’s technology platform for developing RNAi (RNA interference) therapeutics. The alliance will initially cover four therapeutic areas: oncology, respiratory diseases, metabolic diseases, and certain liver diseases.

Alnylam and Roche also will collaborate on RNAi drug discovery for one or more disease targets in these therapeutic areas. In addition, Roche will acquire Alnylam’s European research site located in Kulmbach, Germany (Bavaria), subject to regulatory approval. This site will become Roche’s Center of Excellence for RNAi therapeutics discovery. Under the terms of the agreement, Roche will pay Alnylam $331 million in upfront cash payments and equity investment.

Roche has also acquired NimbleGen Systems, Inc. (Madison, WI, www.nimblegen.com), to gain entry into the high-growth research microarrray market. DNA microarrays are a widely used discovery and research tool in pharma research for the understanding of genetic causes of disease and predisposition factors, comparative genomic analysis, and identification of potential drug targets. Under the terms of the agreement, Roche will pay NimbleGen’s shareholders 272.5 million US dollars.