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Biogen Idec licenses antisense drugs from Isis in $630m deal

Gains neurological and neuromuscular disorder projects

Biogen Idec has signed its third licensing agreement with antisense specialist Isis Therapeutics in less than a year, paying $30m upfront for rights to three projects in the area of neurological and neuromuscular disorders.

The latest collaboration could be worth an additional $200m per project in milestones for Isis, which has already received around $71m from Biogen Idec in upfront payments. 

All told, the antisense company could be due around $1.2bn if all the partnered projects come to fruition, with double-digit royalties on sales of any products that come to market.

The identity of the new targets has not been disclosed, but the scale of the licensing deals are similar to the two earlier collaborations are in the areas of spinal muscular atrophy and myotonic dystrophy type 1

As with the earlier deals Biogen Idec has an option to license a lead drug from each of the three programmes through to the completion of phase II trials.

"Our latest collaboration with Isis ... is a perfect fit within our early-stage research strategy," commented Richard Brudnick, co-head of business development at Biogen Idec.

The scale of the deals is an endorsement of Isis' technology, which has been progressively refining its antisense oligonucleotide platform and is still the only company to date to get a drug in the class onto the market.

But there have been lean times for Isis' pipeline since it launched fomivirsen for cytomegalovirus retinitis in 1998.

The company was forced to take fomivirsen off the market in 2004 when the market for the drug shrank as a result of advances in the treatment of patients with HIV, who were the main sufferers of the opportunistic infection. 

Problems with stability and bioavailability torpedoed other projects and have left Isis without a second product for years, but this could change if Kynamro (mipomersen) for the treatment of homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia is approved by the US FDA.

The regulator's verdict is due next month and an FDA advisory committee backed approval of Kynamro, on which Isis has partnered with Sanofi, by nine votes to six in October.

11th December 2012

From: Research

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