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Vir, Alnylam identify COVID-19 therapy candidate, plan human trials by year end

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(Reuters) - Vir Biotechnology Inc and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc have identified a drug candidate for treating COVID-19 and plan to begin human testing by the end of the year, the companies said on Monday.

The companies plan to meet with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory authorities to discuss accelerating their filing for starting the trials of the inhaled therapy.

Shares of Vir Biotech climbed 4% to $29, while Alnylam's stock rose 1.6% to $131 in premarket trading.

Gilead Sciences Inc's antiviral drug remdesivir on Friday won the FDA's emergency use authorization for treating COVID-19 patients.

Vir and Alnylam's therapy candidate, VIR-2703, uses gene-silencing RNA interference (RNAi) technology that targets and silences specific genetic material, blocking the production of deadly proteins that cause diseases.

The companies also plan to identify up to three additional drug candidates to treat COVID-19, and potentially other coronavirus diseases.

Vir received a $250 million investment from British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc last month as part of a collaboration to develop antibody treatments for COVID-19.

(Reporting by Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Shinjini Ganguli)

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