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Alnylam, Dicerna tussle over RNAi tech

In June, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals sued Dicerna Pharmaceuticals in the Superior Court of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, for misappropriation of trade secrets relating to the N-acetylgalactosamine conjugate technology for delivering RNA therapeutics. The dispute between the Cambridge, Massachusetts–based companies stems from Alnylam's $175-million purchase of Sirna Therapeutics from Merck, of Kenilworth, New Jersey, in 2014. Alnylam claims that after the acquisition, Dicerna hired several laid-off Merck researchers who “collected and took to Dicerna proprietary materials and confidential trade secret information relating to Sirna's siRNA delivery technologies,” which rightfully belonged to Alnylam in accordance with its asset acquisition. Dicerna has denied the claims, calling many of the insinuations in the Alnylam complaint simply false and others, unfounded speculation. “Our RNAi-based therapeutics utilize our proprietary RNAi [RNA interference] technologies, and not prior Merck research. We stand behind these technologies, and the company's record and practices for respecting IP [intellectual property] rights, in order to develop and deliver life-changing therapies as efficiently as possible,” said Dicerna CEO Douglas Fambrough in a statement. Given the different nature of trade secrets compared with patents, and what “reasonable protective measures” Alnylam took as the trade secret holder, industry watchers expect the companies to settle before the court reaches its decision.

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Alnylam, Dicerna tussle over RNAi tech. Nat Biotechnol 33, 791 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt0815-791a

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