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Alnylam Pharmaceuticals has filed separate lawsuits alleging that Pfizer and Moderna infringed on its patents in developing their Covid-19 vaccines, the latest dispute over valuable intellectual property stemming from the pandemic.

In each suit, Alnylam claims the companies used its lipid nanoparticles technology that carries and delivers RNA-based therapies or vaccines in the body. RNA plays a key role in turning the instructions held in the DNA of a person’s genome into functional proteins in cells. Both Pfizer and Moderna developed and now market mRNA-based vaccines, and mRNA is a type of RNA. However, mRNA is easily degraded and the lipid technology provides protection for delivery.


Although the lawsuits are largely identical, Alnylam does imply that Moderna benefited from trade secrets that were disclosed during confidential discussions held in 2014 over a possible license for its lipid nanoparticles technology and how it could be used to develop RNA-based pharmaceuticals. The talks ended without reaching any licensing deal, according to the lawsuit filed against Moderna.

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