Certain traders are apparently swinging from trees this morning as they pop shares of Alnylam (ALNY) 8% on modest volume in premarket action in response to its announcement of a significant reduction in HBV surface antigen in preclinical testing on four monkeys with its RNAi therapeutic ALN-HBV product candidate. The product reduced HBsAg as much as 2.3 log10 compared to 0.5 log10 which is the generally accepted minimum reduction indicating immunologic cure. While encouraging, a colossal amount of work and time remains before any such product will reach the market.
Alnylam purchased the assets from Merck (MRK) in January for $175M ($25M cash + stock). Merck acquired the assets via its acquisition of Sirna Therapeutics in 2006 for $1.1B. Merck's exit at a significant loss is a clear signal that the road to commercialization will be long and arduous.
Alnylam hopes to file an IND by the end of 2015.