By Deena Beasley
Sept 9 Biogen Idec has agreed to pay
another $100 million upfront to Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc
as part of a broad collaboration to develop new
medicines for neurological disorders, the companies said on
The news sent Isis's shares up 9 percent in premarket trade.
The deal is the fourth between the companies in the last two
years, and aims to use the "antisense" technology invented by
Isis to accelerate discovery of drug targets for
Biogen has the option of using the research to develop
either antisense drugs, traditional small molecule drugs or
Antisense drugs aim to interfere at the genetic level to
prevent the formation of disease-causing proteins.
"This is a more expansive collaboration in which we will
work together over the next several years to use the Isis
technology to probe the biology of a disease, develop drug
targets and then potentially take those molecules forward,"
Biogen Chief Executive Officer George Scangos said in a
Biogen is a leader in the market for drugs to treat multiple
sclerosis, a progressive neurological disease that can lead to
Biogen and Isis are already working to develop an
experimental treatment for spinal muscular atrophy which is set
to enter late-stage testing in humans. Earlier collaboration has
also resulted in an experimental drug for myotonic dystrophy
that will soon begin development.
By next year the companies expect to have drug candidates
for three other targets, said Isis CEO Stanley Crooke.
"With the efficiency of antisense we believe we should have
a drug moving forward pretty much every year," he said.
Crooke said the first focus of the new collaboration with
Biogen will likely be neurodegenerative disorders, particularly
those involved with motor dysfunction.
He put the potential value of the deal for Isis at "several
billion dollars," noting that royalty payments for any eventual
antisense drugs would be in the double digit percentages, with
smaller payments for non-antisense compounds.
Isis shares were up at $30.35 in trading before the bell.
They had closed at $27.92 on Friday on the Nasdaq.
Biogen shares were up slightly at $226 premarket. They had
closed at $225.18.