Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has announced that it has been awarded a $38.6 million contract over 33 months from the United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to develop a broad spectrum RNAi anti-viral therapeutic for the treatment of viral hemorrhagic fever.
Viral hemorrhagic fevers are considered by federal agencies to be high priority agents that pose a risk to national security because they can be easily disseminated from person to person, result in high mortality rates, and require special action for public health preparedness.
The Alnylam Biodefense initiative has the potential to create near-term value from the company’s RNAi therapeutic platform, such as obtaining FDA approval for products in an accelerated timeframe and revenues from government stockpiling.
In addition, funding from this initiative allows Alnylam to further extend its capabilities in a manner that can be leveraged across its entire proprietary and partnered pipeline.
“This funding represents continued federal government support of RNAi as a potential therapeutic platform for biodefense and biopreparedness, while allowing us to continue to develop our technology as we advance our pipeline programs,” said Barry Greene, Chief Operating Officer of Alnylam.
“Combined with our Ebola contract from the National Institutes of Health for $23 million awarded in September 2006 and other sources of federal funding, we have now been granted more than $63 million in federal contracts for Alnylam Biodefense,” Greene continued.
The goal of this research program is to develop an RNAi therapeutic for the treatment of hemorrhagic fever virus infection. Alnylam’s program will investigate the silencing of endogenous host targets believed to be involved in viral pathogenesis and disease progression.
This new contract fully supports all activities from program initiation through Phase I trials. With this program, as with its Ebola program, Alnylam is working with the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), an organization uniquely experienced in the handling, safety, and security requirements of specialized biological agents. Alnylam will be producing drug candidates which will be sent to USAMRIID for in vitro and in vivo testing against viral hemorrhagic fevers.
This new federal contract (No. HDTRA1-07-C-0082) is with the DTRA 2007 Medical Science and Technology Chemical and Biological Defense Transformational Medical Technologies Initiative (TMTI), whose mission is to protect the warfighter from conventional or genetically engineered biological threats, known or emergent, by accelerating the seamless discovery and development of broad spectrum medical countermeasures through the use of technology platforms and management approaches.