AstraZeneca and Isis Pharmaceuticals to develop antisense drugs for cardiovascular, metabolic and renal diseases

AZ will pay US$65m upfront to Isis Pharmaceuticals

UK drugmaker AstraZeneca and Isis Pharmaceuticals, based in Carlsbad, CA in the US, are to work together to develop antisense therapies for cardiovascular, metabolic and renal diseases.

Antisense drugs are short, chemically modified, single-stranded nucleic acids (antisense oligonucleotides) that have the ability to target any gene product. They can act inside the cell to target RNA and prevent the production of disease-causing proteins, increase the production of proteins deficient in disease, or target toxic RNAs that are unable to generate proteins.

Under the terms of the agreement AstraZeneca will pay an upfront fee of US$65m to Isis, which will also receive development and regulatory milestones for each programme that AstraZeneca advances to clinical development. Isis is also eligible to earn tiered double-digit royalties on annual net sales.

The new collaboration builds on an existing relationship between the two companies to develop RNA-targeted treatments for cancer

The new collaboration builds on an existing relationship between the two companies to develop RNA-targeted treatments for cancer. It also enables Isis Pharmaceuticals to extend use of its antisense technology to diseases of the kidney.

'Antisense-based therapies are rapidly gaining momentum in the clinic and becoming an important component of our early stage pipeline,' said Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice President, Innovative Medicines & Early Development at AstraZeneca.

'This collaboration combines the world-class antisense drug research capabilities of Isis with our expertise in cardiovascular, metabolic and renal disease drug discovery and development. By working together, we aim to uncover targets and pathways that can be manipulated using antisense drug therapy.'

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