Wednesday, September 23, 2009

RNAi Therapeutics Portfolio: SNALP RNAi Phase I Data and RNAi Trigger IP Questions Likely to Move RNAi Stocks

As the threat of financial apocalypse seems to be behind us, thanks to what authorities can always be counted on in the wake of economic crises, namely printing money and thereby re-distributing wealth, it is time to re-visit the RNAi Therapeutics portfolio.

10 months ago, I would not have necessarily expected to see the likes of mdRNA and Targeted Genetics still in existence today. A number of companies such as RXi Pharmaceuticals, mdRNA, Targeted Genetics, Genesis R&D and others have thus taken advantage of the thawing financial markets and extended their runway by raising capital through secondaries and IP monetizations. Before I calculated the current values in the portfolio, I made a list of the companies and how I would have allocated funds if I were to start the portfolio from scratch, and it turned out that the values more or less corresponded.

The only transactions were selling CytRx and using half of the proceeds for purchasing back their pure-play daughter company RXi Pharmaceuticals, and, yes, Silence Therapeutics with the other half. The first transaction was merely because the anomaly, namely that the stake that CytRx had in RXi had been worth more on paper than CytRx itself, had disappeared. The purchase of Silence Therapeutics was done to take into account their improved IP position following decisions on Kreutzer-Limmer and Tuschl uncertainties in recent months. What I noticed is that, no matter what I think about the merit of the underlying science, I would not discount Silence Therapeutics’ ability to access potential collaborators, and some in Big Pharma may view Silence as a cheap entry-ticket into RNAi Therapeutics.

However, RNAi trigger IP is only one of the RNAi-intrinsic factors that I expect to move RNAi stocks in coming months. More importantly, I expect that, for better or worse, it is the phase I results from foremost Tekmira’s SNALP-ApoB, and then Alnylam’s ALN-VSP02 programs will heavily influence of how investors think about the near-to midterm prospects of RNAi Therapeutics. A positive surprise could come from late-stage preclinical data from the anti-miR122 candidates for the treatment of HCV infection as was alluded to in an interview with Regulus CEO Kleanthis Xanthopoulos, while prospering Santaris is moving ahead with their LNA-based miR-122 inhibitor into late phase I (a likely source of future patent issues).

In tomorrow’s post I will provide a brief run-down of the companies in the portfolio.

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By Dirk Haussecker. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended for distribution to or use by any person or entity who is a citizen or resident of, or located in any locality, state, country or other jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, availability or use would be contrary to law or regulation or which would subject the author or any of his collaborators and contributors to any registration or licensing requirement within such jurisdiction. This blog expresses only my opinions, they may be flawed and are for entertainment purposes only. Opinions expressed are a direct result of information which may or may not be accurate, and I do not assume any responsibility for material errors or to provide updates should circumstances change. Opinions expressed in this blog may have been disseminated before to others. This blog should not be taken as investment, legal or tax advice. The investments referred to herein may not be suitable for you. Investments particularly in the field of RNAi Therapeutics and biotechnology carry a high risk of total loss. You, the reader must make your own investment decisions in consultation with your professional advisors in light of your specific circumstances. I reserve the right to buy, sell, or short any security including those that may or may not be discussed on my blog.