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Alnylam Licenses Chinese Rights to Liver Cancer Drug

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Alnylam Pharmaceuticals said this week that it has licensed the Chinese rights to its RNAi-based liver cancer drug ALN-VSP to US/Chinese pharmaceutical firm Ascletis Pharmaceuticals.

The drug comprises siRNAs against two targets: vascular endothelial growth factor, which is associated with angiogenesis, and kinesin spindle protein, which has been linked to cell proliferation in various cancers. Although the agent offered some signs of efficacy in phase I testing, Alnylam previously said it would not advance it into phase II without a partner (GSN> 5/10/2012).

Under the terms of the new deal, Ascletis will have the exclusive rights to ALN-VSP in China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. Alnylam retains the product rights in all other markets.

Ascletis aims to move the agent into a phase II trial, and Alnylam said it may use the data generated in this study for use in ALN-VSP programs in territories not included in the collaboration, should it secure the partnership it requires for the drug's continued development.

Alnylam stands to receive milestones and royalties from Ascletis. Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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