Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Alnylam’s Scientifically Dishonest GalNAc Claims

Arrowhead Research, as the successor of Mirus Bio, can regard itself as the father of GalNAc-conjugated RNAi delivery.  Accordingly, in 2007, Rozema and colleagues published a seminal paper in which a multivalent polymer-conjugated GalNAc construct was utilized for the hepatocyte-specific delivery of RNAi gene silencing.

In 2015, Alnylam likes to be recognized as the inventor of GalNAc-oligonucleotide Therapeutics, with competitors like Isis Pharmaceuticals and Solstice Biologics playing the roles of copy-cats, and Arrowhead Research failing to get much mention at all.

This, however, is as noted in the introduction far from the truth, and a recent paper on ‘sequentially assembled’ GalNAc-RNAi triggers by Alnylam (Matsuda and colleagues, 2015) is yet another example for how they would like to re-write history to suit their (IP) goals.  History repeating itself you might think after all we’ve been through with SNALP LNP.

Matsuda re-discovering Rozema

Alnylam likes to laugh off Arrowhead’s GalNAc approach by claiming that you need a magic triantennary GalNAc ligand design with highly specific geometry to achieve tight ASGPR target receptor binding and subsequent cellular internalization.  By contrast, Arrowhead Research would be only using monovalent GalNAc which are known, in isolation, to be much poorer ASGPR binders.

The existence of the triantennary design obviously has not evaded Arrowhead Research.  Nevertheless, they have opted for monovalent GalNAcs most likely for their chemical simplicity and therefore reduced cost of goods.

The apparently high cost of triantennary GalNAc synthesis was acknowledged in the Matsuda paper and was said to be the motivation for testing RNAi triggers in which instead of a single triantennary ligand, monovalent GalNAcs were distributed along the RNAi triggers.

Short story short, having GalNAcs conjugated on 3 sequential nucleotides or every other nucleotide did not impact potency much compared to the triantennary 'parent' design.  In other words, the benefit from multivalent binding can be achieved by bringing monovalent GalNAcs together in space.

This, of course, is the same principle behind the Arrowhead approach, where GalNAcs are added to the free amines along a polymer/peptide (an RNAi trigger is just another polymer).  In the case of the melittin-like peptide, I have highlighted the basic amino acids to which GalNAcs are expected to be conjugated:


As you can see, towards the C-terminus (right hand side) of the peptide, there is a cluster of 4 positively charged amino acids that is expected to generate a multivalent ASGPR binder (note that 3 and 4 GalNAcs have similar binding affinities).

Shockingly, while masquerading as the inventors of GalNAc Oligonucleotide Therapeutics with statements like these…

The triantennary GalNAc ligand was subsequently used for hepatocyte-specific delivery of antisense oligonucleotides and short interfering ribonucleic neutrals (siRNNs) in mice, and anti-microRNA therapeutics in humans, confirming the value of the parent trivalent design.’

…they failed to even cite the Rozema paper and went on to say that now (i.e. for the first time) they were going to test the hypothesis that sequential monovalent GalNAcs could do the same job.  This obviously is a clear case of willful scientific dishonesty in their campaign to re-write GalNAc history.

Silence Therapeutics not even a pimple

While the Matsuda paper is geared towards claiming the sequential GalNAc assembly idea and is an affront to Arrowhead Research, it is also a reminder that Silence Therapeutics has been similarly treated with disregard in Alnylam’s ‘invention’ of ‘enhanced’ GalNAc-siRNAs. 

This is because (like Arrowhead Research actually), Alnylam, at least in essentially all RNAi trigger examples in the Matsuda paper, uses the AtuRNAi trigger design, US patents of which claim 2’-O-methylation every other base with a staggered pattern as it regards the annealed guide and passenger strands.

It therefore looks more and more like Alnylam will have to approach Silence Therapeutics for a license sometime before enhanced GalNAc-siRNAs hit the market (at least 2 by 2020 according to Alnylam’s 2020 guidance), if not ALN-TTRsc already (~2017-8).  If Alnylam will have to approach Arrowhead Research for a license regarding GalNAcs, I do not know, but given Alnylam’s noise, worth paying attention to the intricacies of the various IP estates. 


Anonymous said...


these publications should also be mentioned - they are somehow helpful for the assessment of the whole GalNAc story...

Jon J. Hangeland , Joel T. Levis , Yuan C. Lee , Paul O. P. Tso,
Cell-Type Specific and Ligand Specific Enhancement of Cellular Uptake of Oligodeoxynucleoside Methylphosphonates Covalently Linked with a Neoglycopeptide, YEE(ah-GalNAc)3, Bioconjugate Chem., 1995, 6 (6), pp 695–701

Duff RJ1, Deamond SF, Roby C, Zhou Y, Ts'o PO. Intrabody tissue-specific delivery of antisense conjugates in animals: ligand-linker-antisense oligomer conjugates. Methods Enzymol. 2000;313:297-321.

Sliedregt, L. A. J. M., Rensen, P. C. N., Rump, E. T., van Santbrink, P. J., Bijsterbosch, M. K., Valentijn, A. R. P. M., et al. (1999). Design and synthesis of novel amphiphilic dendritic galactosides for selective targeting of liposomes to the hepatic asialoglycoprotein receptor. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 42(4), 609–618.

Kind regards,

Dirk Haussecker said...

V.- you are right in pointing out that it was not Arrowhead either that did all the heavy lifting with developing GalNAc-RNAi, but they themselves are not trumpeting such a narrative either.

Lick My Ass said...

Dirk - Give it up - this paid shill attack on ALNY is getting old - look at the stock price you retard.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dirk, great work with this blog. May i ask you on your thoughts on the GSO platform of Idera pharma? Do gene silencing oligonucs show any promise in your opinion? Thanks have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Does any entity own patents on the GalNac chemistry?

Anonymous said...

Dirk has been trashing ALNY since it was priced at $15 three years ago. Seriously, go back and look at the posts. Even then he was shorting it. I sure as hell am glad I did not listen to him and stayed in!! The funny thing is that he used to trash ISIS too until he bought in about one year ago. Be careful about listening to "experts" with a megaphone!

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