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Alnylam and Stanford University Scientists Discover New Role for,microRNAs (miRNAs) in T Cell Biology and Immunity

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mar 22, 2007 - Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALNY), a leading RNAi therapeutics company, announced today publication of a study in the journal Cell by Alnylam and Stanford University scientists on the role of miRNAs in immunity. In the pre-clinical study, a specific miRNA, miR-181a, was shown to play an important role in controlling T cell responsiveness to antigens by regulating the T cell receptor signaling pathway. Because the T cell response to antigens is one of the primary components of certain autoimmune disorders, these findings further validate miRNAs as disease targets and point to new potential therapeutic applications for antagomirs, a novel class of oligonucleotide-based inhibitors of specific miRNAs.

"Our research points to a critical role for miRNAs, specifically miR-181a, in the regulation of T cell biology," said Dr. Mark Davis from Stanford University School of Medicine, a senior author of the publication. "We're excited about this new discovery as it represents the first clear example of a role for miRNAs in the immune response to antigens."

"In our study, upward or downward modulation of miR-181a was found to control certain aspects of T cell development and to regulate T cell responses to antigens via the T cell receptor signaling pathway," said Dr. Chang-Zheng Chen, also from Stanford University School of Medicine and a senior author of the publication.

"Alnylam's research on miRNAs derives from our discovery of antagomirs, a novel class of oligonucleotide inhibitors of miRNAs. These reagents have become powerful tools to investigate the role of miRNAs in biology and disease processes. We are fortunate to collaborate with some of the leading labs across the world, such as our colleagues at Stanford, in our efforts to explore therapeutic opportunities for miRNA antagonists," said Dr. Muthiah Manoharan, Vice President, Drug Discovery
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