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|Alnylam Receives Grant from Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research; Funding Will Support the Development of Novel Parkinson's Therapies Using RNAi Technology|
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug 15, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALNY), a leading RNAi therapeutics company, announced today that is has been awarded a grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. The grant was awarded under the Foundation's Drug Discovery and Development program aimed at addressing obstacles that currently impede progress in bringing new Parkinson's disease therapies to market. Alnylam and scientific collaborators at Mayo Clinic are applying RNA interference (RNAi) technology toward the development of a therapeutic for treatment of Parkinson's disease using small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), the molecules that induce RNAi, to achieve silencing of alpha-synuclein, a protein whose over-expression has been linked to Parkinson's disease. Alnylam's commitment to the discovery and development of RNAi therapies for the treatment of Parkinson's disease is underscored by its collaboration with Medtronic, Inc. to develop novel drug-device combinations incorporating RNAi therapeutics designed to treat major neurodegenerative diseases.
"The award by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research provides important recognition for Alnylam's novel approach using RNAi technology to treat diseases including Parkinson's disease," said John Maraganore, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. "We are committed to the advancement of RNAi therapeutics that have the potential to treat the cause of disease and have a positive impact in the lives of Parkinson's disease patients."
Recent studies have shown that alpha-synuclein plays a central role in the development of Parkinson's disease. The accumulation of excess alpha-synuclein protein has been shown to be associated with the cause and or pathway of the disease. Experts believe that reducing the levels of alpha-synuclein in the brain of patients may slow or halt the progression of the disease and its associated symptoms. To date, no drugs have been identified that are capable of lowering alpha-synuclein levels in the brain. New approaches like RNAi may pave the way for novel treatments of Parkinson's disease based on direct administration of siRNAs to the central nervous system of Parkinson's patients.
About Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson's disease is a chronic, progressive disorder of the central nervous system. The disease is the direct result of the loss of cells in a region of the brain called the substantia nigra. Loss of these critical nerve cells in the brain leaves patients unable to direct or control their movements in a normal manner. There is no cure for Parkinson's disease. Drugs have been developed that can help patients manage many of the symptoms, but they do not stop the disease from progressing. Nearly one million Americans currently live with Parkinson's and approximately 50,000 more receive diagnosis of the disease every year.
About RNA Interference (RNAi)
RNA interference, or RNAi, is a naturally occurring mechanism within cells for selectively silencing and regulating specific genes. Since many diseases are caused by the inappropriate activity of specific genes, the ability to silence and regulate such genes selectively through RNAi could provide a means to treat a wide range of human diseases. The discovery of RNAi has been heralded by many as a major breakthrough, and the journal Science named RNAi the top scientific achievement of 2002, as well as one of the top 10 scientific advances of 2003.
Alnylam is a biopharmaceutical company seeking to develop and commercialize novel therapeutics based on RNA interference, or RNAi. Growing from its foundation as the world's first company focused on RNAi therapeutics, the company's leadership in the field of RNAi is supported by its preeminent founders and advisors and its strengths in fundamental patents, technology, and know-how that underlie the commercialization of RNAi therapeutics. Alnylam is developing a pipeline of RNAi products using Direct RNAi(TM) to treat ocular, central nervous system, and respiratory diseases and Systemic RNAi(TM) to treat a broad range of diseases, including oncology, metabolic, and autoimmune diseases. The company's global headquarters are in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For additional information, please visit www.alnylam.com.
Alnylam Forward-Looking Statements
Various statements in this release concerning our future expectations, plans, prospects and future operating results constitute forward-looking statements for the purposes of the safe harbor provisions under The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including risks related to: our approach to discover and develop novel drugs, which is unproven and may never lead to marketable products; our ability to obtain additional funding to support our business activities; our dependence on third parties for development, manufacture, marketing, sales and distribution of our products; the successful development of products, all of which are in early stages of development; obtaining regulatory approval for products; competition from others using technology similar to ours and others developing products for similar uses; obtaining, maintaining and protecting intellectual property utilized by our products; and our short operating history; as well as those risks more fully discussed in the "Certain Factors That May Affect Future Results" section of our most recent Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, any forward-looking statements represent our views only as of today and should not be relied upon as representing our views as of any subsequent date. We do not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements.
SOURCE: Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc.