AstraZeneca uses Ionis to make sense from antisense
- AstraZeneca has completed IND-supporting studies for the antisense drug AZD4785 for KRAS-linked cancers and paid Ionis Pharmaceuticals a $28 million milestone payment.
- The big pharma is exercising its option to license IONIS-KRAS-2.5Rx originally developed by Ionis for development and commercialization. The original deal was inked in December 2012 and includes five cancer targets.
- Ionis has received over $85 million to date and could get up to $137 million more in development and milestone payments for AZD4785, as well as low double digit royalties.
AstraZeneca and Ionis Pharmaceuticals originally signed the deal in December 2012, and the preclinical-stage drug provides additional innovation for the big pharma's pipeline, following its recent decision to narrow therapeutic focus and shed non-core assets.
AZD4785 targets KRAS mutations, which underlie around 30% of tumors, and will be the first to enter clinical development that targets KRAS, regardless of mutation type.
AstraZeneca is also looking at the combination of Ionis' AZD9150 (IONIS-STAT3-2.5Rx) with durvalumab, its investigational anti-PD-L1 antibody, in head and neck cancer and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. The two companies also have a collaboration to discover and develop antisense therapies for treating cardiovascular, metabolic and renal diseases.
Earlier this month, AstraZeneca struck a deal with UK biotech Bicycle Therapeutics for peptides to fit into its new core areas of oncology, respiratory disease and cardiovascular/metabolic disease.
While antisense drugs are still relatively new, Ionis has one on the market; Kynamro (mipomersen) for familial hypocholesterolemia. Ionis has a number of collaborations with other big pharma partners including Bayer, Roche and Janssen.
The biotech's spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) drug nusinersen, now part of Biogen's portfolio, could launch early in 2017.
Ionis faced a wobble earlier in 2016, when the FDA put a clinical hold on its drug Ionis-TTR. The drug had been studied in a Phase 3 trial for the rare disease TTR familial amyloid polyneuropathy, with data due in 2017. Partner GlaxoSmithKline then pulled out of a Phase 3 study in TTR amyloid cardiomyopathy, opting to consider its options once further clinical data was available.
- Ionis Pharmaceuticals Statement
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