Firm Advises Mount Sinai on Collaboration and Option Agreement for New Influenza Vaccines

June 18, 2010

Mount Sinai School of Medicine announces exclusive option agreement with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a leading RNAi therapeutics company, for intellectual property related to RNAi applications in vaccine development.

On June 17, Willkie client Mount Sinai School of Medicine announced that it has completed an exclusive option agreement with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a leading RNAi therapeutics company, for intellectual property related to RNAi applications in vaccine development. These new applications of RNAi technology define opportunities for the advancement of novel vaccines in infectious disease.

Alnylam is collaborating with the laboratory of Benjamin tenOever, PhD, Assistant Professor of Microbiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, on the development of microRNA-based attenuated influenza viruses which offer the potential for use as improved live attenuated influenza vaccines. In a paper published last year in the journal Nature Biotechnology, Dr. tenOever and colleagues generated a live, attenuated influenza virus engineered with microRNA target sequences that provide attenuated replication in mammals without impaired growth characteristics during vaccine production. Specifically, microRNA-based attenuation of H1N1 and H5N1 influenza viruses resulted in novel viral antigens that conferred protection in mice from lethal flu infection. This technology is applicable to any virus amenable to recombinant production, and allows for the generation of viruses which can be efficiently propagated in one species and then used as live attenuated vaccines in another. Founded in 1852, Mount Sinai is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. The matter was handled by partners Peter Jakes and Thomas Meloro, and associate Fara Sunderji.