PBL and Alnylam sign RNAi licensing agreement

24th May 2012

Plant Bioscience Limited (PBL), the UK technology management company part owned by BBSRC, has announced today (23 May 2012) that they have entered into a licensing agreement with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. PBL has granted Alnylam a world-wide, non-exclusive license to the Baulcombe patent (U.S. Patent No. 8,097,710) to enable the development of RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics.

"We are pleased to expand our leading IP estate with a license to the Baulcombe patent," said Laurence Reid PhD, Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer of Alnylam. "Alnylam continues to leverage its patent estate for the advancement of innovative medicines to patients and to enable the entire RNAi therapeutics field, with over 30 license agreements formed to date."

PBL's Managing Director Dr Jan Chojecki stated, "We are very pleased to enter into this agreement with Alnylam, a global leader in the development of novel human therapeutics based on RNA interference. We are excited to have Alnylam as a partner, which has an impressive pipeline of RNAi drug candidates in clinical development.

"This agreement further endorses the strength of our patent estate in the RNAi field and we look forward to working with other partners through our non-exclusive licensing strategy in agricultural, research, diagnostic and therapeutic commercial applications. This is an excellent example of how UK scientific research contributes inventions that have many beneficial applications across the life sciences. We are pleased to be able to make non-exclusive licences available on reasonable commercial terms to assist our partners in delivering benefits to patients in areas of unmet medical need."

Professor Sir David Baulcombe and Dr Andrew Hamilton's research at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, which was funded in part by BBSRC, resulted in a ground-breaking paper that was published in Science in 1999 (A species of small antisense RNA in posttranscriptional gene silencing in plants, 286, pp. 950-952). The paper provided the first identification of short RNA molecules as the active agents of silencing, also known as RNAi. Their pioneering work has led to a number of patents describing methods for detecting and inducing silencing in plants and mammals.

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