Biogen has formed a strategic alliance worth $1bn with Ionis Pharmaceuticals to develop a pipeline of drug candidates for multiple neurological diseases.
The ten-year agreement builds on a previous R&D collaboration between the companies that led to the development of Spinraza, a drug for spinal muscular atrophy.
It is set to combine Biogen’s R&D expertise with Ionis’ experience in developing RNA targeted therapies.
Biogen will acquire shares in Ionis for $625m and will make an upfront payment of $375m. Ionis will also be eligible for milestone payments, licence fees and net sales royalties.
Biogen holds the rights to license therapies created through the agreement and will be responsible for their development and commercialisation.
Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos said: “We believe that this new collaboration will allow us to meaningfully expand our neuroscience pipeline in a way that differentiates Biogen.
“With the large number of diseases that could benefit from Ionis’ antisense platform, we believe that the time is now to build upon our highly productive collaboration with Ionis as we aim to transform the treatment of neurological diseases around the world.”
The companies will focus on dementia, neuromuscular and movement disorders, ophthalmology, inner ear diseases and neuropsychiatry.
Ionis will use its antisense platform to identify drug candidates based on selected targets, and Biogen will sponsor and carry out non-clinical studies, clinical development, manufacturing and commercialisation.
Ionis CEO and chairman Stanley Crooke said: “This new collaboration provides the potential opportunity to build an even stronger pipeline for Biogen and Ionis, with the expectation of bringing further benefit to patients in desperate need and value to Ionis’ shareholders.”
Subject to customary closing conditions, the deal is predicted to be completed in the second quarter of this year.