Ionis Pharmaceuticals has signed a collaboration and licence agreement with Novartis to advance a next-generation programme targeting lipoprotein(a) (Lp(a)) for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The partnership will discover, develop and commercialise the medicine for patients with Lp(a)-driven CVD.

Lp(a) is a lipoprotein particle in the liver that comprises a particle similar to low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and apolipoprotein(a).

The agreement is based on the companies’ ongoing collaboration in the development and commercialisation of pelacarsen.

Ionis first discovered pelacarsen in 2019 and granted exclusive global rights for its development, production and commercialisation to Novartis.

The investigational antisense medicine cuts the production of apolipoprotein(a) in the liver to decrease circulating Lp(a) levels.

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Novartis is currently assessing pelacarsen’s potential in a Phase III cardiovascular outcome study.

Novartis will provide Ionis with an upfront payment of $60m, followed by additional payments based on development, regulatory and commercial achievements and tiered royalties.

Novartis will also assume exclusive responsibility for the development, manufacturing and potential commercialisation activities of the next generation Lp(a) therapy.

Ionis CEO Brett Monia stated: “We are pleased to expand our productive collaboration with Novartis aimed at delivering transformative therapies to patients with elevated Lp(a) who are at high risk of cardiovascular events.

“This collaboration is designed to leverage Ionis’ advancing RNA-targeting platform technologies to deliver a novel Lp(a)-targeting therapy that we expect will provide industry-leading efficacy and dosing frequency.”