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Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ALNY - Analyst Report) recently announced the publication of complete results from a phase I study on ALN-VSP in the journal, Cancer Discovery. Alnylam is developing ALN-VSP, a systemically delivered ribo nucleic acid interference (RNAi) therapeutic, to treat patients suffering from advanced solid tumors with liver involvement.

The phase I study enrolled 41 patients suffering from advanced solid tumors with liver involvement, who failed to respond to or had progressed after standard treatment. Results showed that chronic dosing of ALN-VSP for up to 26 months was generally safe and well tolerated, which was the primary objective of the study.

Alnylam enrolled seven patients in the extension study of ALN-VSP, who achieved stable disease or better after completing four months of treatment in the phase I study. Alnylam’s main objective was to collect long-term safety data from the extension study, along with assessing the tumor response.

In Jul 2012, Alnylam had inked a deal with Ascletis Pharmaceuticals to develop ALN-VSP. The strategic collaboration provides Ascletis exclusive rights to develop and commercialize ALN-VSP for treating patients suffering from liver cancers in China, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Alnylam retained rights to the candidate for the rest of the world.

We note that the liver cancer market currently has big companies such as Bayer (BAYRY - Analyst Report).

Earlier this month, Alnylam provided a brief update on its key “Alnylam 5x15” pipeline, which aims to develop RNAi therapeutic candidates and partner programs for the next couple of years. The company is expecting several study results based on its RNAi therapeutic candidates in the next two years.

We expect investor focus to remain on Alnylam’s pipeline. Alnylam carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). However, other pharma stocks such as Targacept Inc. (TRGT - Snapshot Report) and Medivation Inc. (MDVN - Analyst Report) carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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