Alnylam and Vir Expand Collaboration to Develop RNAi Therapeutics for Coronavirus Infection
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Vir Biotechnology expand their collaboration to advance siRNA therapeutics for the treatment of Coronavirus infections. The collaboration builds on an existing agreement and provides the two companies with the opportunity to combine their resources to develop an efficient treatment against SARS-CoV-2.
Alnalym Pharmaceuticals and Vir Biotechnology have been collaborating since a few years to develop novel RNAi therapeutics to tackle infectious diseases such as hepatitis B. RNAi therapeutics, such as small interfering RNA (siRNA) or microRNA (miRNA), are a new class of drugs with therapeutic potential to treat diseases by attacking messenger RNA (mRNA) of the disease-causing genes. For the treatment of COVID-19 this approach is specifically promising, as the genome of SARS-CoV-2 consists of a single-stranded RNA molecule.
Alnylam’ siRNAs target highly conserved regions of Coronavirus RNA, suggesting that they might have a high efficacy against most Coronavirus strains. The company has designed more than 350 siRNAs directed against all known genomes of SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2. These siRNAs will be now tested in in vitro assays for their potency. The collaboration between the two companies will strongly benefit of Alnylam’s recent progress in lung delivery of its siRNA molecules as well as of Vir’s infectious disease expertise.
It must be clearly emphasized that this approach is experimental and that a breakthrough can unfortunately not been guaranteed. However, from a medical and scientific perspective, this strategy makes a lot of sense. Alnylam Pharmaceuticals is a member of our Biotech Investments Model Portfolio.
The full press release of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals can be read here.