Ionis and Ribo partner to commercialise RNA-targeted therapeutics in China

Ionis Pharmaceuticals has entered a collaboration and licence agreement with Suzhou Ribo Life Science (Ribo) to develop and commercialise ribonucleic acid (RNA)-targeted therapeutics in China.

RNA interference (RNAi) pathway is mediated by short double-stranded RNA oligonucleotides called ‘small interfering RNAs’ or ‘siRNAs’.

To date, scientists have tried this pathway to inhibit disease-causing proteins by using double-stranded siRNAsdrugs that require complex formulations.

Using its expertise in oligonucleotide chemistry and design, Ionis has discovered strategies for designing single-stranded oligonucleotides that act through the RNAi mechanism.

Under the agreement, Ionis has granted a licence to Ribo to commercialise two Ionis Generation 2+ anti-sense drugs in metabolic disease and cancer and an option to licence a third pre-specified Generation 2+ anti-sense drug in China.

Furthermore, Ribo will conduct a multi-year research and drug discovery programme to identify drugs that useIonis' ssRNAi technology.

"The need for new medicines in China is growing rapidly, especially for metabolic diseases and certain genetically defined cancers."

Ionis will receive an undisclosed up-front payment and equity in Riboand also retains the rights to develop and commercialise ssRNAi technology and all drugs outside China.

Ionis Pharmaceuticals drug discovery senior vice-president and oncology and rare diseases franchise leader Brett Monia said: “The need for new medicines in China is growing rapidly, especially for metabolic diseases and certain genetically defined cancers.

“Ribo is the ideal partner for us in China. Ribo has made excellent progress in its RNAi therapeutic programmes and we believe we will benefit from their drug development and regulatory expertise in China.

“We believe that our partnership with Ribo maximises the value of our drugs in this collaboration by leveraging the clinical data generated in China to support the overall global development plan for each drug.”

After the identification of a development candidate, Ribo will have the option to licence each drug by paying Ionis a fee.

Ribo will also be responsible for development and commercialisation of every drug it licences in China.

In addition, Ionis will be eligible to receive development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments along with royalties.