GSK Embraces Isis to Expand Effort in Drugs for Rare Disease Targets

Includes: GSK, IONS
by: The Burrill Report
GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) said it will pay $35 million plus potential license and milestone payments of up to $1.5 billion for access to Isis Pharmaceuticals' (ISIS) antisense drug discovery platform for new therapeutics for rare diseases. Isis stands to earn as much as $20 million in milestones on average for each of six programs it can bring to mid-stage proof-of-concept.
“This alliance is exactly the type of deal we want to do,” says Stanley Crooke, Isis CEO. “We retain control of the discovery and early development of our drugs while working together with a very high-quality partner to maximize the value of the drugs in late-stage development and commercialization.”
GSK has been steadily expanding the stable of partnerships supporting its interest in drugs for rare disease targets. It formed a new standalone unit specializing in the development and commercialization of medicines for rare diseases in February, building on strategic collaborations it established with two specialist companies, Prosensa and JCR Pharmaceuticals in 2009.
“As a platform, the Isis antisense approach offers us an exciting opportunity to target certain severe diseases in a way that has not previously been possible,” says Patrick Vallance, a senior vice president and head of drug discovery at GSK.
This isn’t the first connection between Isis and GSK either. In February, GSK said it would invest in a microRNA drug for hepatitis C under development at Carlsbad-based Regulus Therapeutics, a spinoff from Isis and Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALNY).
March has proven to be a good month for Isis, which also landed a $6 million payment from Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) for getting a green light from regulators to start testing its experimental cholesterol-lowering drug, BMS-PCSK9Rx.