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AstraZeneca has partnered with Isis Pharmaceuticals to discover and develop antisense therapies for cardiovascular, metabolic and renal diseases.

Antisense drugs are short, chemically modified and single-stranded nucleic acids (antisense oligonucleotides), which are said to hold capability to target any gene product of interest.

These will provide new opportunities for therapeutic treatment as they act inside the cell to influence protein production by targeting RNA to either prevent the production of disease-causing proteins, increase the production of proteins deficient in disease or target toxic RNAs that cannot generate proteins.

Based on a broad existing relationship, the new partnership will support AstraZeneca to develop novel RNA-targeted treatments and Isis to expand use of its antisense technology to diseases of the kidney.

"This collaboration combines the world-class antisense drug research capabilities of Isis with our expertise in cardiovascular, metabolic and renal disease drug discovery and development."

AstraZeneca innovative medicines and early development executive vice-president Mene Pangalos said: "This collaboration combines the world-class antisense drug research capabilities of Isis with our expertise in cardiovascular, metabolic and renal disease drug discovery and development."

Under the deal, Isis will receive an upfront payment of $65m from AstraZeneca, in addition to regulatory milestones for each programme that AstraZeneca advances to clinical development.

In addition, the deal will allow Isis to receive tiered double-digit royalties on annual net sales for each programme.

Isis Pharmaceuticals COO Lynne Parshall said: "Combining our antisense technology with AstraZeneca’s strong knowledge, leadership and commitment in these areas should be very valuable in fully exploiting these opportunities and moving new therapies effectively and efficiently toward the market."

According to AstraZeneca, the deal is subject to clearances under the Hart-Scott Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.


Image: AstraZeneca’s R&D site in Mölndal, Sweden. Photo: courtesy of Erik031.