Alnylam Pharma To Cut Up To 30 Pct Of Work Force

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) -- Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Thursday it will slash its work force by as much as 30 percent now that a five-year collaboration with Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG has come to an end.

Alnylam will reduce its staff by a minimum of 25 percent, cuts that should help generate about $25 million in savings next year, the company said. The company had 178 employees as of Jan. 31, so the reductions would affect a minimum of roughly 45 employees.

The company expects to end the third quarter with more than $325 million in cash. It also anticipates $3 million in one-time charges related to the staff cuts.

CEO John Maraganore cited the end of the company's collaboration with Novartis as the reason behind the restructuring.

"While a difficult decision to make at a personal level, we are convinced that it is an important step in building our company for the long term," Maraganore said.

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, an RNA drug developer, works on drugs that use gene silencing technology, designed to turn off proteins that cause disease.

Under the terms of the companies' partnership, Novartis executed its right to select 31 designated disease targets for exclusive development into RNA drugs under Alnylam's intellectual property and technology.

Should Novartis develop any RNA products against the disease targets, Alnylam would be entitled to receive "significant milestone payments," under certain conditions, Alnylam noted.

Shares in Alnylam fell 45 cents, or 3.1 percent, to $14.22 on Thursday.
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