HORSHOLM, Denmark—Biopharmaceutical company Santaris PharmaA/S, a privately held organization that specializes in medicines that targetdisease-related mRNAs and microRNAs, has established a worldwide strategicalliance with Bristol-Myers Squibb for the discovery and development of novelmedicines. The partners will make use of Santaris Pharma's proprietary LockedNucleic Acid (LNA) drug platform in the course of this agreement.
Per the terms of the alliance, Bristol-Myers Squibb will paySantaris Pharma $10 million up front, with the potential for up to $90 millionin milestone payments per product and funding for ongoing discovery andresearch activities. Santaris Pharma will also be eligible for royalties onworldwide sales of all medicines that result from this agreement.
"We are delighted to welcome Bristol-Myers Squibb as a newpartner," Henrik Stage, president and CEO of Santaris Pharma, said in a pressrelease regarding the deal. "This strategic alliance further consolidatesSantaris Pharma's leadership in the field of oligonucleotide therapeutics."
Santaris Pharma's LNA drug platform allows the company toproduce LNA-based drug candidates against mRNA and microRNA targets in diseasessuch as cancer, cardiometabolic disorders, rare genetic disorders andinfectious and inflammatory diseases. Santaris Pharma notes on its website thatRNA-targeted medicines offer a variety of advantages, such as the ability toaccess disease-relevant targets that cannot be drugged by small molecules orantibodies, predictable pharmacokinetic/toxicological characteristics, abilityto be designed according to the Watson-Crick base pairing rules and areproducible, scalable drug manufacturing process that can be automated.
The company has a number of drug candidates underdevelopment in its pipeline, most of which are partnered with otherorganizations. The lead candidate is miravirsen (SPC3649), a Phase II compoundindicated for the treatment of hepatitis C. Santaris Pharma's other drugcandidates are indicated for conditions and diseases such as cancer (includingsolid tumors), hypercholesterolemia, unspecified rare genetic disorders,cardiovascular disease and viral diseases.
"We are proud and honored that Bristol-Myers Squibb haschosen Santaris Pharma as their partner. We are confident that the uniquefeatures of the LNA Drug platform can achieve clinical breakthroughs and lookforward to working closely with the Bristol-Myers Squibb team," Dr. HenrikØrum, chief scientific officer and vice president of business development atSantaris Pharma, commented in a statement.
The agreement is the second large deal announcement for thecompany in the past few months. In January, Santaris Pharma, along with miRagenTherapeutics, Inc., announced an expansion of their existing partnership in thefield of microRNA therapeutics. The companies' relationship began back in June2010 when miRagen licensed rights to make use of the LNA drug platform toidentify drug candidates against its own proprietary microRNA targets forpossible cardiovascular disease treatments. Under the terms of the expandedagreement, miRagen has been granted a broad, non-exclusive license in the miRNAfield for therapeutics research and worldwide exclusive rights to research,develop and commercialize LNA drugs against an additional six microRNA targets,which brings the total number of targets to 10. No financial terms for theagreement were disclosed.