Aro Biotherapeutics, a biotech firm engaged in the development of protein biologics called Centyrins, has signed a licencing deal that can potentially generate up to $1.4bn for the company.

The Philadelphia-based firm entered a licensing and collaboration agreement with Ionis Pharmaceuticals that will enable the latter to leverage Aro’s Centyrin technology to develop targeted cell and tissue-specific delivery of antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs).

The two companies will work together to deliver ASO-Centyrin drug conjugates, created to treat diseases with ‘high unmet medical need’.

Ionis will have global commercialisation rights of all ASO-Centyrin drug conjugates.

In turn, Aro will be eligible for a payment of up to $1.4bn that will include an upfront cash payment, R&D funding and payments on achieving specific development and commercial milestones. Additionally, Aro will receive royalties on net sales.

Aro Biotherapeutics co-founder and CEO Sue Dillon said: “We are excited to partner with Ionis, the premier company in antisense drug discovery and development.

“The collaboration sets the path for creating a new class of innovative medicines with the potential to selectively target ASOs to tissues where the disease occurs, thereby creating more potent drugs.”

Ionis and Aro also agreed to partner on other discovery programmes.

Ionis Pharmaceuticals chief scientific officer C Frank Bennett said: “Through Ionis’ dedication to innovation and to further advancing our antisense technology, we have produced a broad pipeline of potentially transformational medicines for patients.

“We have now entered this licensing and collaboration agreement with Aro to enable our scientists to expand our technology to an even broader array of disease areas, with a goal of providing new treatment options to patients in need.”