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Alnylam, Vir Collaborate on RNAi Therapy for Coronavirus

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Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ALNY - Free Report) along with San Francisco, CA-based Vir Biotechnology, Inc. (VIR - Free Report) announced that both are collaborating to develop/commercialize RNAi therapeutics targeting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

Going by the agreement, the companies will leverage Alnylam’s recent advances in lung delivery of novel conjugates of siRNA along with Vir’s expertise in infectious disease and established capabilities to develop one or more siRNAs to treat SARS-CoV-2 and potentially other coronaviruses as well. siRNA is the molecule that mediates RNAi.

Per the press release, Vir will make all the development and commercialization efforts for any selected development candidate. At clinical proof of concept, Alnylam will have an option to equally share the profits/losses regarding the development and commercialization of the coronavirus program. If successful, Alnylam may also choose to earn milestones and royalties on net sales of products in amounts agreed upon for this coronavirus program.

Shares of Alnylam were up 5.2% following this news on Wednesday. In fact, the stock has rallied 38.3% in the past year against the industry’s decrease of 6.3%.

With this new program, Alnylam and Vir are expanding their licensing deal, which they inked in 2017 to develop up to six novel siRNAs for treating infectious diseases. The companies are currently evaluating the safety and efficacy of ALN-HBV02 (also known as VIR-2218) in a phase I/II study for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.

We note that in the wake of this rapidly-spreading coronavirus infection in China and across the globe, several large and small pharma/biotech players are making concerted efforts to develop a vaccine or a treatment. Per the latest Bloomberg article, globally, Covid-19 already infected more than 90,000 people while the death toll crossed the 3000-mark. Coronavirus afflicted more than 100 people in the United States, killing 11 of them.

The WHO and other global health organizations as well as government authorities are actively participating in developing treatments for the Covid-19 and spreading awareness to avoid contracting the contagion.

Currently, AbbVie’s (ABBV - Free Report) HIV drug, Kaletra, is being administered to coronavirus-affected patients in China. Gilead (GILD - Free Report) initiated two phase III studies to evaluate its antiviral candidate, remdesivir, as a treatment for the Covid-19. Pipeline candidates of other companies are also in early stages of development.

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Price

Zacks Rank

Alnylam currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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