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Alnylam cutting headcount to focus cash on RNAi projects

By Nick Taylor , 23-Jan-2012
Last updated on 23-Jan-2012 at 13:09 GMT

Alnylam is cutting its headcount by one-third to lower operating costs as it attempts to bring an RNAi product to market.

Earlier this month Alnylam hailed the promise of its lipid nanoparticle (LNP) RNAi delivery platform but its workforce now faces further cuts. The cuts are intended to lower costs while Alnylam focuses on moving treatments for transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis and hemophilia through the clinic.

 

As we effect our ongoing transformation from a platform company to a product company, now is the time to focus our near-term efforts and resources on what we believe to be our highest value opportunities”, John Maraganore, CEO of Alnylam, said.

 

On September 30 Alnylam had 171 employees meaning, if the figure is still accurate, the layoffs could affect more than 50 people. In the same filing Alnylam said it expected to expand as it adds product candidates to its pipeline.

 

The cuts will lower cash operating expenses by $20m (€15m) in 2012, Alnylam said. In 2010 operating expenses totalled $144m. One-time restructuring costs of $4m relating to employee severance and benefits are expected to hit in the first quarter.

 

Alnylam’s proposed cuts come 16 months after the ending of an alliance with Novartis prompted the RNAi developer to announce a 30 per cent workforce reduction. The next quarter the headcount at Alnylam was down by 21, close to 10 per cent, and since then employment has recovered slightly.

 

RNAi battle

 

Last week Alnylam filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Tekmira Pharmaceuticals. In the suit Alnylam claims Tekmira is pursuing more than the three gene targets the companies’ siRNA license deal allows.

 

The allegations focus on a 2010 deal, expanded the following year, between Tekmira and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Alnylam claims the deal “infringed directly and indirectly the asserted patients”.

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