Alnylam’s In the Money: Expects $500 Million in Bank at Year-End

Xconomy Boston — 

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals is building one big cash horde for a company with no moneymaking products. The Cambridge, MA-based biotech company said today that it expects to sign two or more “major new alliances” in the next six to 18 months, and it is now telling Wall Street it will have $500 million in cash in the bank at the end of the year instead of its earlier prediction of $390 million.

Alnylam, a leading developer of drugs using RNA interference technology to turn off diseased genes, has already achieved its 2008 business goals through cutting deals with Takeda Pharmaceutical, and Kyowa Hakko, as well as one with GlaxoSmithKline through its Regulus Therapeutics joint venture, the company said today in a statement. Any more partnerships with pharma companies eager to fill up their drying pipelines will be gravy.

Alnylam (NASDAQ: ALNY) has already had a big year, with shares climbing 24 percent before today’s news. That could change, especially since it has a long ways to go before it can prove its drug candidates work well enough in people to justify commercialization. Even though pharmaceutical companies often wait until the later stages of development to invest in other biotech products, they’ve been eager to get involved early with Alnylam and its RNAi drugs.

“The hunger for our innovation is greater than ever before,” said John Maraganore, the company’s CEO, on a conference call with analysts after the release.