Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALNY), a leading RNAi therapeutics company, announced today that the European Patent Office (EPO) has issued a notification of intent to grant for a patent (EP1309726) in the Tuschl I patent series. The new patent is the first to be granted in the European Union (EU) from the Tuschl I patent series, and includes 19 claims broadly covering the use of double stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) for RNAi. This new patent grant extends the scope and breadth of Alnylam's fundamental intellectual property estate that comprises numerous issued or granted patents and a large number of pending patent applications that together broadly cover RNAi therapeutics, including small interfering RNAs, or siRNAs, the molecules that mediate RNAi.
"We are very pleased with the EPO's decision to grant claims from Tuschl I, a patent we believe is clearly part of the patent landscape required for the development and commercialization of all RNAi therapeutics," said Barry Greene, President and Chief Operating Officer of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. "This is the first patent of the Tuschl I patent series to be granted in the EU, and expands the scope of our fundamental IP that also includes issued or granted patents from the Crooke, Kreutzer-Limmer, Tuschl II, and Kay & McCaffrey patent estates, amongst other patent applications pending. We have demonstrated a clear track record of leveraging our patent portfolio to enable the field in developing RNAi therapeutics, as evidenced by more than 25 licensing agreements which have yielded over $660 million in realized cash funding for Alnylam. With this new patent grant, and the continued expansion of our IP estate, we expect our business development execution to only continue in the future."
The current grant of the Tuschl I patent (EP1309726) consists of 19 claims broadly covering RNAi methods, including methods of reducing the expression of a gene, including those of mammalian or viral origin, with dsRNAs between 21 and 23 nucleotides in length. In addition, the patent also includes claims covering methods of examining the function of a gene, as well as the use of both unmodified and chemically modified dsRNAs. Upon completion of certain formalities, the patent will be granted in approximately four months. Alnylam is the exclusive licensee of the ownership interests of the Max Planck Society, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, in the Tuschl I patent series for RNAi therapeutics.
"It is gratifying to see the Tuschl I patent series advance through the EPO, as we believe this patent has critical relevance for the development RNAi therapeutics. Combined with the Tuschl II patent series, which is a distinct patent owned by Max Planck and exclusively licensed to Alnylam for therapeutic applications, the new Tuschl I patent family significantly strengthens Alnylam's efforts as our licensee," said Dr. Joern Erselius, Managing Director, Max Planck Innovation GmbH. "We are, of course, pleased to have Alnylam as a partner for the commercialization of this discovery; they have clearly demonstrated a commitment to pursuing the full potential of RNAi technology."