Biogen Idec and Isis Pharmaceuticals enter drug development pact worth as much as $630 million

Under the global collaboration agreement, the companies (which are also developing antisense drugs to treat spinal muscular atrophy and myotonic dystrophy type 1 under previously established collaborations) will discover and develop antisense drugs against three undisclosed targets to treat neurological or neuromuscular disorders

Jeffrey Bouley
WESTON, Mass. and CARLSBAD, Calif.—Already in previously established collaborations around antisense drugs to treat spinal muscular atrophy and myotonicdystrophy type 1, Biogen Idec and Isis PharmaceuticalsInc.  recently announced the sealing of a globalcollaboration deal under which they plan discover anddevelop antisense drugs against three undisclosed targets to treatneurological or neuromuscular disorders.
 
Under the terms of the agreement, Isis will receive an upfront payment of $30 millionand is responsible for the discovery of a lead antisense drug for eachof the three targets, and the company is eligible to receivewhat the companies call "substantial development milestone payments" to support research anddevelopment of each program prior to Biogen Idec exercising itsoption to license each program.
 
The deal stipulates that Biogen Idec has the option to license adrug from each of the three programs through the completion of Phase IItrials.
 
Furthermore, Isis could receive as much as another $200 millionin license fees and regulatory milestone payments per program, as well as receiving double-digit royalties on sales of any commercialized drugs coming out of the deal.
 
All told, the deal is said to potentially worth as much as $630 million.
 
For its part, Isis will be responsible for development of the drugs through thecompletion of the initial Phase II clinical trial, with Biogen Idecproviding advice and assistance on research and the clinical trialdesign and conduct and regulatory strategy for each program. Should BiogenIdec exercise an option, it will assume global development, regulatoryand commercialization responsibilities for that drug.
 
"Ourlatest collaboration with Isis to discover and develop novel targetsfor the treatment of neurological disorders is a perfect fit within ourearly-stage research strategy," said Richard Brudnick,vice president and co-head of business development at Biogen Idec."This will be our third collaboration with Isis, which is reflective ofour respect for them as a partner and as a leader in antisensetechnology. By combining Isis' knowledge with Biogen Idec's expertise asa leader in neurology, we believe this latest discovery collaborationholds great potential for finding novel approaches to treatingneurologic diseases."
 
The previous agreements between Biogen Idec and Isis to develop and commercialize antisense drugsfor the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy and myotonic dystrophy type1 wereannounced earlier in 2012.

"We look forward tobroadening our drug discovery and development efforts to include newneurological disease targets with Biogen Idec ... Combining our antisense drug discovery withBiogen Idec's expertise in severe neurological diseases hassignificantly enhanced the development of our spinal muscular atrophyand myotonic dystrophy programs. For example, Biogen Idec'scontributions have added significant value across multiple areas, suchas government affairs, biomarker development, clinical trial design andregulatory expertise, bolstering our development activities for theseprograms," said B. Lynne Parshall, chiefoperating officer and chief financial officer at Isis. "We have beenvery successful in our partnering efforts this year, driven primarily bythe advancement of the drugs in our pipeline. The high level ofinterest in our drug discovery technologies allows us to select theoptimal partner for each program, while commanding significant value forour assets."
 
Right after announcing the deal with Biogen Idec, Isis released news that AstraZeneca will pay it $31 million upfront as well asunspecified of milestone payments for as many as five antisense drugs targetingcancer. Also, AstraZeneca is buying the rights to one of Isis'early-stage drugs, ISIS-STAT3Rx, for advanced lymphomas.



Jeffrey Bouley

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