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Alnylam Earns Milestone Payment

Zacks Equity Research

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ALNY) recently earned development milestone payment of $3.2 million from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). The payment was earned due to the progress on the use of their VaxiRNA technology for producing Glaxo’s influenza vaccines. Alnylam has been a leader in the ribo nucleic acid interference (RNAi) technology and its VaxiRNA platform uses the technology to produce more vaccines.

Notably, in November last year, Alnylam and Glaxo entered into a collaboration agreement, which permits Glaxo to use Alnylam’s VaxiRNA technology for producing vaccines. Glaxo, the leading producer of vaccines, is first to utilize Alnylam’s novel VaxiRNA platform for vaccine production.

The collaboration agreement focused primarily on influenza vaccine production in cell culture systems. Apart from the $3.2 million received as milestone payment, Alnylam is also eligible to receive payments on the unit product sales of the vaccines from Glaxo.

We remind investors that the company has alliances with players such as Medtronic, Inc. (MDT), Novartis AG (NVS), Biogen Idec Inc. (BIIB), Roche Holdings Ltd. (RHHBY), Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. (CBST) for its expertise in RNAi therapeutics. Moreover, the company’s core product strategy, Alnylam 5x15, introduced in January 2011, also aims to develop RNAi therapeutic products for the treatment of genetically defined diseases addressing major unmet medical needs. By adopting this strategy, the company aims to have five RNAi therapeutic programs in advanced clinical development by 2015.

Our Recommendation

We are impressed by Alnylam’s strategy of entering into collaborations with big players in the market. We believe that investor focus will remain on the company’s pipeline going forward. We are also impressed by the company’s 5X15 initiative. We currently have an Outperform recommendation on Alnylam. The stock carries Zacks #1 Rank (‘Strong Buy’ rating) in the short run.

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