UPDATE 1-Blackstone invests $2 bln in Alnylam, boosting gene-silencing drug development

(Adds details on deal, shares, background)

April 13 (Reuters) – Blackstone Group Inc said on Monday it invested $2 billion in Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc through an equity-and-debt deal, giving the drugmaker a financial boost to develop its gene-silencing therapies.

Alnylam, whose shares were nearly 7% higher in premarket trading, specializes in the development of medicines using the Nobel prize-winning RNA interference (RNAi) technology and earlier this month agreed to develop treatments for the new coronavirus with Vir Biotechnology Inc.

Blackstone said on Monday it purchased 50% of the royalties on global sales of Alnylam’s cholesterol therapy inclisiran, currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (reut.rs/3ckcTyF)

Inclisiran, belonging to a class of drugs that inhibit a protein known as PCSK9, was co-developed with The Medicines Co, which was bought by Novartis AG earlier this year.

The private equity firm said it would provide $1 billion in committed payments to Alnylam, a term loan of up to $750 million, and purchase $100 million of the drugmaker’s common stock.

Shares of Alnylam rose nearly 7% to $123.11 in premarket trading.

Alnylam was the first drugmaker to win U.S. approval for a treatment using the RNAi technology, which works by targeting and “silencing” specific genetic material, blocking the production of deadly proteins that cause diseases.

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