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Alnylam Adds Infectious Liver Disease Programs to Pipeline

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NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Alnylam Pharmaceuticals this week announced that it has expanded its pipeline to include programs in chronic hepatitis delta virus (HDV) and chronic liver infections.

HDV is an RNA virus that infects hepatocytes and depends on a co-existing hepatitis B virus infection to produce the envelope particle that holds its genome, the company said. It can be acquired at the same time as HBV or afterward, and results in more severe liver disease than that seen with HBV infection alone.

Alnylam said that its HDV candidate, called ALN-HDV, will be developed as part of a combination therapy with its preclinical HBV agent ALN-HBV, which is slated to enter Phase I testing in 2016.

The firm's chronic liver diseases therapeutic, dubbed ALN-PDL, will target PD-L1, a cell surface protein that is believed to play a major role in suppressing the immune system in cancer and infection. Infection with HBV or hepatitis C increases PD-L1 expression, which potentially suppresses a patient's immune system.

By knocking down PD-L1, Alnylam expects to reactive a suppressed immune system against viral infection, without the toxicities that have been observed with monoclonal antibody approaches against the target.

Both ALN-HDV and ALN-PDL will use Alnylam's proprietary GalNAc conjugate delivery technology, the company said.

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