What happened

Shares of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALNY), a biotech focused on RNAi therapies, skyrocketed 249% in 2017 according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. Investors can thank a series of positive clinical updates and a beaten down share price for the huge rally. 

So what

Here's an overview of the key news stories from the year:

  • In May the FDA granted Alnylam's experimental drug givosiran with Breakthrough Therapy Designation as a hopeful treatment for acute hepatic porphyria.
  • In May the company raised $360 million through a common stock offering.
  • In September Alnylam and its partner, Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY), announced that their experimental drug patisiran produced great clinical results during its phase 3 Apollo trial. Patisiran is a hopeful treatment for hereditary ATTR (hATTR) amyloidosis patients with polyneuropath.
  • In November Alynlam and Sanofi shared additional details from the Apollo trial at an important medical conference. Wall Street bid up shares on the clinical news because the data was strong enough to indicate that patisiran could hold a clinical edge over a rival drug that is being developed by Ionis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:IONS).
  • In November the FDA granted patrision with Breakthrough Therapy Designation.
  • In November Alnylam and its partner, The Medicines Company (NASDAQ:MDCO), kicked off a phase 3 trial that is designed to study a drug called inclisiran as a hopeful treatment for patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. 
  • In November the company raised an additional $700 million through a common stock offering.
  • In December the FDA lifted its clinical hold on fitusiran, which is a drug being developed by Alnylam and Sanofi as a hopeful treatment for hemophilia A and B.

Given the slew of positive development, it isn't hard to understand why shares more than tripled during the year. 

Group of researchers pointing at DNA

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

2018 is shaping up to be a transformative year for Alnylam. The odds look favorable that patisiran will go on to win regulatory approval which, if true, will finally turn Alynalm into a commercial-stage biotech. The rest of the company's pipeline continues to look strong as well, which also provides investors with reasons to remain optimistic.

All in all, I think that growth-focused investors should consider putting this dynamic biotech on their watchlist.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.