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Alnylam (ALNY) to Build $200 Million Site in Massachusetts that Will Employ 200+ Workers

2/12/2016 3:25:00 PM

Alnylam to Build $200 Million Site in Massachusetts that Will Employ 200+ Workers
February 15, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass – RNAi therapeutics company Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ALNY) will build a $200 million facility in Norton, Mass., which could employ up to 220 people by 2020, The Boston Globe reported this morning.

In an interview with the Globe, John Maraganore, Alnylam’s chief executive officer, said ground will be broken in April on the 12-acre site and is expected to be completed by 2018, when the company’s first drugs are expected to hit the market. Maraganore said the company opted for the new facility to enable the company to reach its goal of becoming a “multi-product company by 2020.” The company expects to manufacture multiple drugs at the facility, Maraganore added.

Alnylam is currently developing its Phase III lead candidate Patisiran for TTR amyloidosis at a small lab in Cambridge. The company anticipates patisiran to clear regulatory hurdles by next year and the drug will likely be initially manufactured at its Cambridge facility. The new Norton site will be able to handle patisiran as well as other projected drugs, Maraganore said.

RNA interference is a natural mechanism of gene silencing. Much of the interest in RNAi is based on the fact that the RNAi mechanism operates upstream of protein production by silencing the mRNA that codes for such proteins, thereby preventing the disease-causing proteins from being made in the first place. By way of analogy, the RNAi approach is akin to “stopping a flood by turning off the faucet” as compared with today’s medicines that simply “mop up the floor,” Alnylam said on its website.
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By the end of 2020, Alnylam expects to achieve a profile of three marketed products and 10 RNAi therapeutic clinical programs.

Alnylam is using its RNAi therapeutics to develop treatments for multiple illnesses, including TTR, hemophilia and other bleeding disorders, hepatic porphyrias, beta thalassemia, hypertension, liver infections and more. Alnylam is developing an RNAi therapeutic targeting PCSK9, a protein regulator of LDL receptor metabolism, in collaboration with The Medicines Company (MDCO). On Nov. 11, Alnylam announced that collaboration showed positive results from its Phase I clinical trial of ALN-PCSsc. If the drug moves forward, and all indications are that it will, the drug could take on Amgen’s anti-cholesterol drug Repatha and Praluent, which are both PCSK9 inhibitors. Alnylam’s drug blocks the creation of PCSK9 in the liver using RNA interference.

Many of the company’s programs are still listed as being in the development stage, according to information on its website. However, in addition to the Phase III trials for patisiran, the company also shows a Phase III trial for its hemophilia candidate Revusiran. Alnylam also has ALN-HBV in the pipeline for hepatitis B virus (HBV) and ALN-HDV for the treatment of hepatitis D.

Maraganore is expecting rapid growth within the company over the next five years, he told the Globe. The company currently has about 350 employees, but expects to rapidly expand to about 1,500 employees over the next five years. In November, Alnylam hosted a job fair that targeted employees of Cambridge, Mass.-based BIIB) (BIIB), which indicated it was laying off 400 people.

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