Patent Office grants Alnylam new claims on its RNAi delivery method

Alnylam ($ALNY) announced July 22 that its intellectual property estate has been strengthened due to the U.S. Patent Office's issuance of a Notice of Allowance for claims in one of its patent applications that covers "chemically modified RNA therapeutics conjugated with an N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc) ligand independent of length, sequence, or disease target," according to a statement.

"These newly allowed claims from the Manoharan '478 patent recognize the pioneering work of Alnylam scientists in the advancement of conjugates as a delivery platform for RNA therapeutics. We are gratified that the USPTO has acknowledged these innovations by allowance of broad claims from this patent application," senior vice president Laurence Reid said in a statement. "Based on this progress, we believe that GalNAc-conjugates are now the industry-leading delivery approach for RNA therapeutics targeting liver-expressed genes, and this patent allowance will reinforce Alnylam's central role in value creation based on therapeutics linked to this technology."

Alnylam is attempting to use a method known as RNA interference to develop treatments for a variety of diseases. The biggest technical challenge of the method is drug delivery, Alnylam COO Barry Greene said in a prior interview with FierceDrugDelivery: "When we say delivery, we're talking about getting the siRNA [small interfering RNA], which is the drug that intermediates RNAi into the cytoplasm of the cell, which is where the RNAi machinery works."

Alnylam's GalNAc-siRNA platform uses the sugar molecule GalNAc conjugated to the RNA molecule to enable subcutaneous delivery. "We've created a conjugate platform where we're attaching a sugar moiety to specifically target the asialoglycoprotein receptor of hepatocyte," he said. "The delivery is now very elegant, and very targeted, and specific for hepatocytes [liver cells]."

Investors are anxiously awaiting the commercialization of one of its candidates, an event which has yet to occur.

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