After putting aside a bitter legal feud, Alnylam and Dicerna chiefs make nice with an RNAi collaboration
John Maraganore and Douglas Fambrough used to be at each other’s throats as Alnylam pursued claims that its RNAi rivals at Dicerna had improperly purloined the IP it had picked up from Merck in a bargain basement fire sale.
But that was all settled up close to 2 years ago with a settlement from Dicerna’s Fambrough. And now the two are moving ahead in a close R&D partnership that makes them collaborators on a couple of key disease targets.
In the pact announced this morning, the 2 new allies will pool their respective RNAi drugs for alpha-1 liver disease, letting Dicerna move ahead on the development front to see whether 1, or both, should be advanced through a pivotal program. Dicerna will foot the bill on that effort while Alnylam gains ex-US commercial rights to whatever comes out the regulatory side with a win.
Both of these drugs — ALN-AAT02 and DCR-A1AT — are in Phase I/II at the moment.
That puts them behind Arrowhead, which is in a Phase II/III pivotal with their rival and started dosing patients in a small mid-stage study late last year focused on patient responses.
Then Alnylam and Dicerna are cross-licensing drugs for primary hyperoxaluria. That covers Alnylam’s lumasiran targeting glycolate oxidase for the treatment of PH type 1 and Dicerna’s nedosiran targeting lactate dehydrogenase A for the treatment of PH types 1, 2, and 3.
They each are offering the other a royalty stream on global sales.
The alliance shoves the old dispute into the history books, relegated now to a chapter on IP lawsuits. Alnylam had been upset after watching Merck staffers allegedly make off with the IP they were buying from the pharma giant, only to wind up at their rival. Dicerna’s counter-claims spotlighted some compelling anecdotes about how easily research leaked out of Merck after the company decided to punt their R&D flop.
Dicerna claimed that Merck executives practically did everything but help carry suitcases loaded with research out the door as they helped line up new jobs for the departing staffers. And their case detailed numerous instances of just how helpful they could be.