Alnylam Loses RNAi Patent in Europe; Analyst Says No Worries

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY) isn’t used to losing patent cases, but it happened yesterday in Europe to one of the company’s RNA interference patents, known as Glover. The company said it plans to appeal.

What does it all mean to the Cambridge, MA-based company and its quest to develop new drugs through the gene silencing technology? Not much, says Michael King, a veteran biotech analyst with Rodman & Renshaw.

King sent a note to clients today headlined “Alnylam Loses a Preseason Game.” The patent covers long stretches of double-stranded RNAi molecules that have limited commercial value, compared with what he called the company’s “key triumvirate” of RNAi patents, known as Kreutzer-Limmer, Tuschl II, and Crooke. Those patents will continue to give Alnylam freedom to develop new RNAi drugs, a strong bargaining position in partnership talks with other drug companies, and the chance to extract royalties from anybody else who successfully develops new drugs using the method, according to King.

Still, on a bearish day in the market, Alnylam shares dipped 3 percent, to $28.52 at 12:33 p.m. Eastern time today. “Should ALNY shares slip on misplaced concerns about the strength of the company’s intellectual property estate, we would be buyers of the stock,” King said. His price target on the stock is $37.

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