Biogen Idec, Isis strike fourth collaboration

Companies to use antisense technology to develop treatments for neurological disease

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WESTON, Mass.—A broad, multi-year collaboration wasannounced this week between Biogen Idec and Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in whichthe companies will seek to advance the treatment of neurological diseases withantisense technology. Per the terms of the agreement, which is slated to runsix years, Biogen Idec will be granted exclusive rights to the use of Isis'antisense technology in developing therapies for neurological diseases. Inreturn, Biogen Idec will pay Isis $100 million up front. Isis will also beeligible to receive milestone payments of up to $220 million for antisensemolecules, as well as license fees and royalty payments for all treatments thatresult from this collaboration. The specific amount will depend on the modalityof the molecule that Biogen Idec chooses to advance. Biogen Idec will alsofield the cost of clinical trials conducted by Isis under the auspices of thisagreement.
The companies will collaborate on the selection andvalidation of disease targets as well as conducting drug discovery activitiesas they seek clinical candidates. Isis will take charge of drug discovery andearly development of antisense therapies, and Biogen Idec will create anddevelop the small-molecule products and assume responsibility for later-stage developmentand commercialization. 
"We are pleased that Biogen Idec, a world leader inneurological diseases, has selected antisense drug technology to fuel itsneurology drug pipeline, and are pleased to expand our already successfulrelationship," B. Lynne Parshall, chief operating officer at Isis, said in apress release. "Biogen Idec's access to novel targets and contribution toresearch and development efforts should enable us to identify, validate andadvance a number of promising new therapies. Combining our antisense drugdiscovery with Biogen Idec's expertise in severe neurological diseases hasalready significantly enhanced the development of our spinal muscular atrophyand myotonic dystrophy programs."
Antisense technology alters the function of a gene, makingit possible to either silence a mutation or activate a gene. A strand ofnucleic acid—either DNA, RNA or a chemical analogue—can be synthesized thatwill bind to the messenger RNA produced by a targeted gene and used to turn thegene on or off.
"This strategic alliance with Isis builds on our existingrelationship and combines the unique strengths of each partner to significantlyadvance the treatment of serious neurological diseases," Douglas E. Williams,Ph.D., executive vice president of research and development at Biogen Idec,commented in a statement. "Antisense is a validated technology that we believewill help build our pipeline of antisense, small-molecule and biologicsprograms, strengthening our leadership in neurology."
This collaboration is the fourth agreement announced betweenBiogen Idec and Isis. The companies announced their first collaboration inJanuary of last year, when they signed an exclusive, worldwide option andcollaboration agreement for the development and commercialization of ISIS-SMNRxfor the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy. In June of the same year, thecompanies announced they would be developing and commercializing a novelantisense drug for the treatment of myotonic dystrophy type 1, also known asSteinert disease, and then in December, they announced a collaboration todiscover and develop antisense drugs against three undisclosed targets for thetreatment of neurological or neuromuscular disorders.
SOURCE: Biogen Idec press release

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