Devices & Diagnostics

Medtronic joins with drug company to treat Huntington’s disease

Medtronic Inc. (NYSE:MDT) said Wednesday it will form an alliance with a pharmaceutical firm and research foundation to develop a unique drug/device therapy to treat Huntington’s disease. The medical firm, based in Fridley, Minnesota, said it will partner with Alnylam Pharmaceutical Inc. (Nasdaq:ALNY) and the CHDI Foundation to deliver a cutting-edge drug technology directly to the brain using an implantable infusion system being developed by Medtronic.

Medtronic Inc. (NYSE:MDT) said Wednesday it will form an alliance with a pharmaceutical firm and research foundation to develop a unique drug/device therapy to treat Huntington’s disease.

The medical firm, based in Fridley, Minnesota, said it will partner with Alnylam Pharmaceutical Inc. (Nasdaq:ALNY) and the CHDI Foundation to deliver a cutting-edge drug technology directly to the brain using an implantable infusion system being developed by Medtronic.

The technology, called RNAi, can “turn on” and “shut off” certain genes, including the mutant genes that cause Huntington’s, a progressive, degenerative disease that causes brain cells to waste away. Medtronic estimates about 120,000 people suffer from the disease in the United States.

“The ALN-HTT program represents an exciting opportunity to combine innovative medicines with our drug-delivery technology in an area of extreme unmet medical need,”  Gregory Stewart, director of CNS drug therapy R&D in the neuromodulation business at Medtronic, said in a statement.  “With no effective disease-modifying therapies available currently for patients afflicted with Huntington’s disease, the collaboration between Alnylam and Medtronic, and now support from CHDI, will work to develop a novel treatment strategy for this devastating neurodegenerative disease.”

Under the 50-50 partnership, Medtronic will commercialize the therapy in the United States and Europe. In exchange for funding clinical development of the drug/device product to its launch, Alnylam will receive a proportional share of the profits in the United States and royalties and milestone payments in Europe.

CHDI, a not-for-profit research foundation that focuses on Huntington’s, initially will fund up to 50 percent of the drug’s clinical development.

“Alnylam and Medtronic have shown leadership and encouraging progress in developing a novel drug-device combination for the treatment of Huntington’s disease,” Robi Blumenstein, President of CHDI Management, said in a statement. “Their collaborative approach demonstrates a combined commitment to tackle this devastating disease and this program is closely aligned with CHDI’s mission. We welcome the opportunity to accelerate this program and look forward to continued advancement toward clinical testing in patients.”