Alnylam is the first company to join GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) tropical disease patent pool. The Cambridge, Massachusetts–based biotech will donate 1,500 issued or pending patents on RNA interference to the pool, which already contains 800 patents from London-based GSK. The objective of the program, established by GSK in March 2009, is to provide access to intellectual property (IP) and technological know-how to researchers developing therapies for neglected tropical diseases in the world's 49 least-developed countries. IP assets in the pool will be available on a royalty-free, nonprofit basis as long as the resulting therapies are offered to the targeted regions, and as long as these regions continue to meet the criteria of need as established by the World Health Organization. Malaria, dengue fever, tuberculosis and blinding trachoma are examples of the 16 tropical diseases selected by the project. The least developed countries are in Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. The tropical disease pool is an opportunity for companies to engage in social responsibility, at little cost, as the targeted regions do not represent a conventionally viable drug market. “There's definitely PR and practical benefits to be's a win-win for both the companies and the patients,” says analyst Simos Simeonidis, of Rodman & Renshaw in New York. John Maraganore, CEO of Alnylam says, “I hope this [effort] can be catalytic across the industry, as a way of fostering the needs of industry to the needs of the third world.”