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Arrowhead Acquires Novartis' RNAi R&D Portfolio

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Arrowhead Research Corporation has announced the acquisition of Novartis' entire RNAi research and development portfolio and associated assets. The acquisition includes assignment of certain patents and patent applications owned or controlled by Novartis related to RNAi therapeutics, an exclusive license in the RNAi field to other patents and patent applications owned or controlled by Novartis, assignment of a third party license, three pre-clinical RNAi candidates, and other related assets. 

Key aspects of the acquisition include the following:

Multiple patent families covering RNAi-trigger design rules and modifications that fall outside of key patents controlled by competitors, which the Company believes provides freedom to operate for any target and indication;

Novel intracellular targeting ligands that enhance the activity of RNAi-triggers by targeting the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) more effectively and improving stability once RISC is loaded;

An assignment of Novartis' license from Alnylam Pharmaceuticals granting Arrowhead access to Alnylam intellectual property, excluding delivery, for 30 gene targets chosen by Novartis;

A pipeline of three candidates initiated by Novartis and for which Novartis has developed varying amounts of preclinical data.

"This is an important deal for us. Novartis has been working in the RNAi field for over a decade and their developments in proprietary oligonucleotide formatting and modifications are some of the best we've seen. We anticipate this acquisition will provide us with substantially expanded freedom to operate, proprietary technology that appears to enhance the activity of RNAi triggers, access to non-delivery Alnylam RNAi IP for 30 targets, and three programs that went through the rigorous Novartis vetting process," said Christopher Anzalone, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Arrowhead. "We now have additional flexibility to optimize each new candidate using the most effective RNAi-trigger design and modifications. We look forward to incorporating these novel technologies into future drug candidates."

Under the terms of the agreement, Arrowhead previously made a payment to Novartis of $7 million in cash and will provide an additional payment of $3 million in cash and $25 million in Arrowhead common stock within 30 days. Novartis is also eligible to receive milestones and single digit royalties on sales of future products in connection with the agreement.