Biogen Idec and Isis Pharmaceuticals have entered a broad, six-year research collaboration to leverage antisense technology to advance the treatment of neurological diseases. The agreement combines Biogen Idec's experience in neurology with Isis' antisense technology to develop novel therapies to treat neurological disorders.
This is the fourth collaboration between the two companies in the last two years.
Antisense technology is designed to alter a gene's function, silencing a mutation or activating a gene to compensate for an underlying genetic defect. When the genetic sequence of a gene is known to cause a disease, it is possible to synthesize a strand of nucleic acid (DNA, RNA or a chemical analogue) that binds to the messenger RNA (mRNA) produced by that gene and effectively turn that gene "on" or "off."
Biogen Idec will gain exclusive rights to the use of Isis' antisense technology to develop therapies for neurological diseases. Biogen Idec will make an upfront payment of $100 million. Isis is eligible to receive milestone payments, license fees and royalty payments for all treatments developed through this collaboration, with the specific amount dependent upon the modality of the molecule advanced by Biogen Idec. In the case of antisense molecules, the milestone payments could be as much as $220 million, plus additional amounts related to the cost of clinical trials conducted by Isis under the collaboration.
The companies will work together to select and validate neurological disease targets and conduct drug discovery activities with the goal of identifying clinical development candidates. Isis will be primarily responsible for drug discovery and early development of antisense therapies, while Biogen Idec will be responsible for the creation and development of small molecule treatments and biologics. Biogen Idec will determine the molecular modality best suited for advancement through clinical development and also will be responsible for later stage development and commercialization of all drugs arising from the collaboration.
"Biogen Idec's access to novel targets and contribution to research and development efforts should enable us to identify, validate and advance a number of promising new therapies. Combining our antisense drug discovery with Biogen Idec's expertise in severe neurological diseases has already significantly enhanced the development of our spinal muscular atrophy and myotonic dystrophy programs," said B. Lynne Parshall, chief operating officer at Isis Pharmaceuticals.
The collaboration follows three previous collaborations between Biogen Idec and Isis. In the first half of 2012, Isis and Biogen Idec established collaborations to develop antisense drugs to treat spinal muscular atrophy and myotonic dystrophy type 1. Isis and Biogen Idec entered into a third collaboration to discover and develop antisense drugs against three novel targets for neurological disorders at the end of 2012.