Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has announced that it presented pre-clinical data at the American Thoracic Society (ATS) International Congress being held in San Diego, California, from May 19 - 24, 2006.
Alnylam and its collaborators presented data from several ongoing respiratory disease programs including pandemic flu, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
At the ATS meeting Alnylam presented pre-clinical data on identification of small interfering RNAs, the molecules that mediate RNAi, that demonstrate potent anti-viral activity across multiple strains of flu.
In particular, Alnylam scientists and collaborators demonstrated in vitro anti-viral activity toward a human clinical isolate of the H5N1 virus.
These potent effects toward H5N1 were achieved with multiple siRNAs that also showed anti-viral activity toward other flu strains.
The Alnylam pandemic flu program, in collaboration with Novartis, is focused on the development of RNAi therapeutics targeting sequences that are common to all flu genomes, including those of avian origin such as the H5N1 strain.
"We and our collaborators are committed to exploring novel therapeutics for the treatment of many respiratory diseases," said Antonin de Fougerolles, Ph.D., Senior Director, Research of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals.
"The pre-clinical findings we announced at ATS represent continued progress with our pandemic flu program, as we advance this effort toward the clinic."
Based on these results and other research, Alnylam also announced that its flu drug candidate will include two siRNAs targeting different genes within the influenza virus designed to achieve the broadest spectrum of anti-viral activity, while diminishing the likelihood of viral resistance.
Alnylam's research and development in respiratory diseases include human clinical trials for the company's lead clinical development program for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Alnylam recently presented safety results from its Phase I clinical trials with ALN-RSV01, an RNAi therapeutic for the treatment of RSV infection, demonstrating the drug was safe and well tolerated when administered intranasally to adult human volunteers.
"There is significant need for novel therapeutics to effectively treat respiratory viral infections as they are a leading cause of serious disease and mortality worldwide," said Ralph A. Tripp, Ph.D., of the Center for Disease Intervention, Department of Infectious Diseases, at the University of Georgia.
"I continue to be encouraged by the progress Alnylam is making in the area of developing RNAi therapeutics for the treatment of these important diseases, such as RSV and pandemic flu."