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Janssen partners with Isis on stomach conditions

Will develop treatments that target RNA in people with autoimmune disorders

Isis PharmaJanssen Biotech will make use of Isis Pharmaceuticals' RNA technology to develop new treatments for genetic diseases of the stomach.

The two companies will focus on developing so-called 'antisense' drugs that bind to the genetic sequence of a faulty gene in order to treat autoimmune disorders that affect the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

California-based Isis will receive $35m in an upfront payment from Janssen while a further $800m is available if certain milestones are met.

Janssen – the pharma subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) - chose Isis to work with due to its experience in the area, which includes the development of lipid-lowering medicine Kynamro (mipomersen sodium) in partnership with Sanofi's subsidiary Genzyme.

Kynamro, which was approved by the US FDA at the beginning of 2013, is an antisense drug that works by binding to messenger RNA to shut down faulty genes related to the production of cholesterol, and Janssen will be looking to apply the premise to GI disorders.

B Lynne Parshall, chief operating officer at Isis Pharmaceuticals, said: "We are the leader in RNA-targeted therapeutics and our innovation and the successes of our pipeline drugs enable us to form collaborations, like this one, with leaders in specific therapeutic areas.

“This partnering strategy ensures that we have access to resources that support and enhance our drug discovery efforts and also provides us with collaborators, like Janssen, who are uniquely capable of conducting development, marketing and commercial efforts for these drugs."

The agreement covers three development programmes for each of which Janssen has the option to license a drug if a suitable candidate is identified.

For any drug that gets to this stage Janssen will assume global development, regulatory and commercialisation responsibilities.

The potential of RNA-targeted treatments is attracting the interest of large pharma companies and Isis has other ongoing research partnerships including a $1.5bn deal with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) covering rare diseases and a strategic alliance with AstraZeneca covering oncology, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

6th January 2015

From: Research

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