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Asuragen, Mirus Bio, Pfizer, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inex Pharmaceuticals

Asuragen Signs Deal for Yale Researcher’s miRNA Research in Cancer
Asuragen said this week that it has acquired exclusive access to inventions developed by Yale University researcher Frank Slack related to the use of microRNAs to regulate oncogenes.
"By taking this license, Asuragen continues to strengthen its position … in the application of miRNAs for diagnostics and therapeutics,” Matt Winkler, CEO and CSO of Asuragen, said in a statement.
Asuragen also said it has entered into a sponsored research alliance with Slack to fund his miRNA research.

Mirus Forms Gene-Silencing Collaboration with Pfizer
Mirus Bio said this week that it has signed a two-year, multimillion dollar agreement with Pfizer to investigate and optimize gene-silencing methods in animal models.
The deal, Mirus said, will take advantage of its nucleic acid delivery platforms — specifically the company’s hydrodynamic intravascular injection technology and its nanoparticle technology for siRNAs — to target genes of interest to Pfizer.
Specific terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.

Alnylam, Inex Expand Collaboration to Include Licenses, Manufacturing
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals has taken a worldwide, exclusive license to liposomal delivery technology from Inex Pharmaceuticals to discover, develop, and commercialize RNAi therapeutics, the companies said this week.
Additionally, the companies have expanded their technology research and manufacturing alliance on lipid-based delivery technology. Inex has also received three licenses to Alnylam technology for the development of RNAi-based therapeutics, as well as exclusive access to Alnylam intellectual property for the development of immune stimulatory oligo drugs that do not act via the RNAi pathway, the companies said.
The licenses to Alnylam’s technology are subject to Alnylam review and third-party obligations.
Under the terms of the agreement, Inex will receive an upfront payment of $8 million in either newly issued shares of Alnylam common stock and/or cash, at Alnylam's option, the companies said. Inex will also receive $4 million in funding over the next two years to continue to identify and develop lipid-based delivery systems for Alnylam.
Inex has further agreed to provide contract manufacturing services on an exclusive basis for Alnylam proprietary products in the collaboration in exchange for Alnylam’s commitment to provide a $5 million loan for capital equipment expenditures related to manufacturing capabilities.
Inex is also eligible to receive $13 million in potential milestone payments for each product utilizing Inex technology, of which $9.5 million is due upon regulatory approval and successful commercialization resulting in more than $500 million in product sales, plus royalties on product sales, the companies noted.
The newest agreements between the companies build off a deal first signed last March and expanded in July under which Alnylam took an option to exclusively license Inex’s liposomal-based drug-delivery technology (see RNAi News, 7/20/2006).
Inex’s delivery technology is currently the subject of a protracted legal battle with one-time subsidiary Protiva Biotherapeutics and RNAi drug developer Sirna Therapeutics, which is now owned by Merck.