(By Balaseshan) ISIS Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ISIS) and AstraZeneca Plc (NYSE: AZN) have formed a strategic alliance for the discovery and development of novel generation antisense therapeutics against five cancer targets.
The discovery and development of therapeutics includes a license to develop and commercialise ISIS-STAT3Rx, a drug Isis is currently evaluating in an early clinical trial in patients with advanced lymphomas.
Antisense therapies target the proteins involved in disease processes by destroying the RNA that is involved in creating these proteins. The Isis discovery platform develops specific therapies that bind to messenger RNA (mRNA) and inhibit the production of disease-causing proteins.
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Under the terms of the agreement, Isis will receive from AstraZeneca $31 million in upfront and near term payments, comprising a $25 million payment on signing followed by a $6 million payment in the second quarter of 2013 assuming the research program is continuing.
In exchange, Isis has granted AstraZeneca an exclusive license to develop and commercialise ISIS-STAT3Rx and a pre-clinical program as well as an option to license products developed under a separate research program. Once licensed, AstraZeneca will be responsible for all further development and commercialization.
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AstraZeneca will be responsible for all development of ISIS-STAT3Rx other than the conduct of the ongoing clinical trial, which Isis will complete. Isis is eligible to receive further milestone payments subject to achieving certain predefined clinical success criteria for the ISIS-STAT3Rx program and pre-clinical milestones for the other programs.
Isis is also eligible to receive downstream development and approval milestone payments, license fees for research program targets as well as royalties on sales from products that are successfully commercialized.
The strategic alliance aims to apply AstraZeneca's experience in developing personalised medicines to enhance the drug discovery and development process for four research programs in the oncology area and to aid in the development of ISIS-STAT3Rx for patient populations that could benefit the most from inhibition of STAT3, a protein that drives cancer growth.
ISIS closed Monday's regular session up 4.84% at $9.42, while AZN ended up 0.31% at $48.35.