After reaching another milestone in its pact with Takeda, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals “is poised to become for the RNAi field what Genentech was for the field of monoclonal antibodies”, according to analysts at Rodman & Renshaw.

The gene-silencing specialist has earned a $20 million “technology transfer payment” from the Japanese drugmaker as part of the strategic alliance the companies formed in May 2008. This brings the total cash received from Takeda to $140 million, with the possibility of another $10 million payment near-term.

As part of the deal, which could be worth over $1 billion, Alnylam is also eligible to receive milestones and royalties related to Takeda's advancement of RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm has also retained certain product opt-in rights in the US market.

News of the Takeda payment was followed by a glowing research note from Rodman & Renshaw analysts Simos Simeonidis and Yatin Suneja. They claim that Alnylam “represents a very attractive entry point for investors with a long-term horizon” and “even short-term investors can realise a 25%-30% return within the next few months”.

This confidence is based on their view that RNAi can become “the third major category of drugs, after small molecules and monoclonal antibodies”. They added that if that happens, "Alnylam is poised to become for the RNAi field, what Genentech was for the field of monoclonal antibodies."

Simeonidis and Suneja added that it is, "of course, impossible to know with certainty when (and even if) the current revolutionary work conducted at Alnylam will result in a drug”. RNAi, a natural mechanism that the body uses to ‘silence’ certain genes, “has the potential to revolutionise drug development and provide solutions for diseases with ‘undruggable’ targets”, they add, and Alnylam has a head-start in terms of knowledge and expertise, “both within the company and the network of contacts and collaborations in academia and other biopharmas”.