Novartis (NVS) Partners With Alnylam for Liver-Targeted Therapies

Novartis NVS announced a collaboration with Alnylam ALNY to explore targeted therapy to restore liver function.

Novartis and Alnylam have agreed to collaborate on the discovery and development of siRNA-based targeted therapy to restore functional liver cells in patients with end-stage liver disease (ESLD).

Novartis would leverage Alnylam’s proven, proprietary siRNA technology to inhibit a target discovered at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. This would potentially lead to the development of a treatment designed to promote the regrowth of functional liver cells and provide an alternative to transplantation for patients with liver failure.

During the exclusive three-year research collaboration, Alnylam will develop and test potential siRNAs using target-specific assays developed by Novartis. Once a lead candidate is identified, further development and clinical research will be conducted by Novartis.

As of now, liver transplantation is the only treatment for ESLD, but transplants are invasive procedures and there is a limited supply of organs available for patients in need. Per the companies, there is high requirement for medicinal alternatives to transplantation that regenerate liver tissues and restore the essential metabolic and synthetic processes that are managed by the liver.

Novartis has lost 5.5% in the year so far against the industry’s growth of 17.6%.

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For NVS, the year 2021 was pretty ho-hum. Most of the company’s key brands maintain momentum. However, the Sandoz business continues to be affected by pricing pressures. Hence, management has commenced a strategic review of Sandoz and might separate the business.

Meanwhile, Novartis is looking for strategic acquisitions using the cash proceeds from its stake sale in Roche RHHBY.

In November, Novartis agreed to sell its 33% stake in Roche for $20.7 billion. NVS has been a shareholder of Roche since May 2001. Novartis initiated a share buyback of up to $15 billion to be executed by the end of 2023. The buyback is funded through the proceeds from the recent sale of 53.3 million shares of Roche.

Novartis currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). A better-ranked stock in the large-cap pharmaceutical company is Pfizer PFE, currently sporting a Zacks Rank#1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Pfizer’s estimates for 2022 have jumped from $5.50 to $5.70 in the last seven days. Shares of PFE are up 47.7% in the past year.

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