Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Vir Biotechnology and Alnylam Join the Fight Against COVID-19

By Taylor Carmichael - Updated Mar 4, 2020 at 6:05PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The two biotechs are expanding their existing collaboration with the goal of developing an antiviral treatment for the novel coronavirus.

Yet another biotech has joined the fray against the novel coronavirus: Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (ALNY -0.91%) and Vir Biotechnology (VIR 3.38%) on Wednesday announced they were expanding their ongoing collaboration to include an attempt to develop RNA interference (RNAi) treatments for SARS-CoV-2.

According to the American Society for Microbiology, coronaviruses are everywhere. They are the second-leading cause of the common cold, after rhinoviruses. In an article on the society's website, Dr. Rodney Rhode wrote, "Coronaviruses ... mutate and change at a high rate, which can create havoc for both diagnostic detection as well as therapy (and vaccine) regimens."

stethoscope and medical equipment

Image source: Getty Images

The two companies have been collaborating since the 2017 founding of Vir, which specializes in using immunology to fight and prevent infectious diseases. Vir CEO George Scangos was the CEO of Biogen before he took control of the start-up.

"Given the scope and speed of the COVID-19 outbreak," Scangos said, "Vir is seeking multiple approaches that combine our expertise in infectious disease with that of current and new partners to respond rapidly. Alnylam has been an excellent partner, and our complementary capabilities made this a compelling opportunity..."

As Alnylam CEO John Maraganore said, "We believe RNAi therapeutics represent a promising approach for targeting coronaviruses, like SARS-CoV-2. As the leader in RNAi therapeutics, we at Alnylam are committed to doing our part in joining other biopharmaceutical companies, like Vir, to address this emerging outbreak." 

Vir will lead all development and commercialization of any selected drug molecules. Alnylam retains the option to share in the profits and losses associated with the effort. Shares of Vir were up 14% in early trading Wednesday, while Alnylam was up 3%. 


Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Stock Quote
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
$125.60 (-0.91%) $-1.15
Vir Biotechnology, Inc. Stock Quote
Vir Biotechnology, Inc.
$24.46 (3.38%) $0.80

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 05/27/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.