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AZ adds another Ionis drug in $330m kidney disease deal

The candidate targets a genetically associated form of the condition

IonisAstraZeneca has signed another licensing deal with antisense specialist Ionis, this time paying $30m upfront and $300m in milestones for a kidney disease candidate.

The agreement centres on IONIS-AZ5-2.5Rx (AZD2373) which hits an undisclosed target in a “genetically associated form of kidney disease”, according to Ionis, which develops messenger RNA drugs that can be used to block the production of disease-associated proteins.

AZ will be responsible for development and marketing of the candidate, while Ionis is in line for tiered, low double-digit royalties if it makes it through to market.

AZ has found Ionis a fertile source of clinical candidates, signing two other deals last year or so with the biotech for AZD4785, a candidate that targets the KRAS oncogene and which started clinical trials in solid tumours last year, and AZD8233 for cardiovascular disease whose target is being kept under wraps for now.

Ionis netted $25m upfront for AZD8233 and $28m for AZD4785, and according to the company has so far earned around $220m from its AZ-partnered projects. AZ has the option to license additional antisense drugs upon development candidate nomination, it says.

The two companies are also collaborating on AZD9150 - an antisense drug designed to reduce the production of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) - which is being tested as a combination with AZ’s PD-L1 inhibitor Imfinzi (durvalumab). Another partnered antisense candidate called AZD5312 failed to hit the mark in prostate cancer trials and was abandoned in 2016.

“This is the second drug to enter development under our strategic collaboration with AstraZeneca in cardiovascular, metabolic and renal diseases,” said Brett Monia, Ionis’ chief operating officer and vice president of antisense drug discovery and translational medicine.

“AZ is a great partner to work with in the cardiometabolic and renal therapeutic area, and we look forward to them moving this program through development.”

The partners first started their collaboration in cancer back in 2012, and added the cardiometabolic and renal alliance in 2015.

After many years at the forefront of efforts to develop antisense drugs, Ionis’ pipeline has started to deliver with Biogen-partnered Spinraza (nusinersen) on the market for spinal muscular atrophy and volanesorsen for familial chylomicronaemia syndrome and inotersen for TTR amyloidosis in late-stage development.

Article by
Phil Taylor

21st February 2018

From: Sales

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