New firm will gain related tools, expertise, and patents.

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Isis Pharmaceuticals created Regulus Therapeutics, a joint venture focused on miRNA therapeutics. Regulus will combine related technologies, know-how, and intellectual property (IP) from both companies.

“The emerging biology of microRNAs points to a completely new understanding of cellular mechanisms for regulation of gene expression,” said David Baltimore, Ph.D., of California Institute of Technology, Nobel laureate, who will be the chair of the new company’s scientific advisory board. “I believe that microRNAs represent previously unexplored disease targets where pharmacological approaches could lead to the emergence of novel therapies for many human disorders.”

Both Isis and Alnylam will grant Regulus exclusive licenses to their IP for miRNA therapeutic applications as well as certain early fundamental patents in the miRNA field. Alnylam will make an initial investment of $10 million to balance venture ownership. Thereafter, Isis and Alnylam will share funding.

“We are excited to embark on this venture, which represents an opportunity to invest in a focused expansion of our ongoing microRNA research efforts through Regulus’ application of our antisense technology platform to create microRNA therapeutics,” comments Stanley Crooke, M.D., Ph.D., chairman and CEO of Isis.

Regulus will be operated as an independent company with its own board of directors and management team. Alnylam and Isis retain rights to develop and commercialize miRNA therapeutic products that Regulus decides not to develop itself or with a partner.

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