Alnylam pays $175m to buy Sirna Therapeutics

Photo taken from Alnylam’s website.
Photo taken from Alnylam’s website.

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Cambridge company specialing in RNA interference therapies that are designed to silence genes that cause diseases, said that it has acquired a Merck subsidiary called Sirna Therapeutics, which also works on RNA technologies, for $175 million.

The acquisition of Merck’s RNAi’s intellectual property will advance Alnylam’s plans to develop a new class of medicines, Alnylam said.

Under the agreement, Alnylam will pay make an upfront payment of $25 million in cash and $150 million in Alnylam common stock to Merck. Merck is also eligible to receive up to $105 million in developmental and sales milestone payments per product, as well as single-digit royalties, associated with the progress of certain pre-clinical candidates discovered by Merck. Merck is also eligible to receive up to $10 million in milestone payments and single-digit royalties on Alnylam products covered by Sirna Therapeutics’ patent estate.

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In a statement, Alnylam chief executive John Maraganore said: “We believe the acquisition of Sirna Therapeutics will complement and extend our own progress and continued focus on RNAi therapeutics, including siRNA-conjugate technologies. Indeed, we believe that the acquisition of Merck’s RNAi technologies and intellectual property will further our efforts to build a new class of medicines, advancing them to patients in need.”

Meanwhile, Alnylam just said it is teaming up with Genzyme, the Cambridge-based biotechnology unit of French drug maker Sanofi SA, to develop drugs to treat rare genetic disorders. Under this agreement, Genzyme will pay $700 million to buy a chunk of Alnylam.