The Medicines Company (NASDAQ:MDCO) has licensed Alnylam Pharmaceuticals' (NASDAQ:ALNY) cholesterol-lowering ALN-PCS RNAi therapeutic program, the companies announced today. Alnylam is due $25 million upfront from The Medicines Company, and Alnylam could receive up to an additional $180 million if development and commercial milestones are met. If a drug from the program makes it to market, Alnylam will be eligible to receive scaled double-digit royalties on global products sales.

The ALN-PCS program targets proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9, or PCSK9, a protein that regulates the low-density lipoprotein receptors that remove the bad LDL cholesterol from the blood. Knocking down the level of PCSK9 with RNAi increases the activity of the receptor, which reduces cholesterol levels.

The program includes ALN-PCS02, which is delivered intravenously, and ALN-PCSsc, which can be injected subcutaneously under the skin. ALN-PCS02 has already completed a phase 1 trial in healthy volunteers that demonstrated the potential to lower LDL cholesterol levels by 50% after just one injection. The subcutaneous version is still in pre-clinical development.

Anlylam will advance the program through phase 1 trials, after which The Medicines Company will take over development and commercialize the drugs if they make it to market.