Novartis Parts Ways with Idera Pharma

Xconomy Boston — 

Idera Pharmaceuticals said this morning that it’s losing one of its three key Big Pharma partners. Swiss drug giant Novartis has told Cambridge, MA-based Idera (NASDAQ:IDRA) that it will terminate their four-year-old collaboration to develop drugs for respiratory diseases in February.

Novartis has been funding research at Idera under this partnership since 2005 to develop drugs that activate immune responses to treat asthma, allergies, and other respiratory ailments. Idera has collected at least $6 million from Novartis over the course of the collaboration, including a $1 million payment for initiating a Phase I clinical trial for a nasal spray treatment for respiratory conditions. Idera will now retain all the rights to that drug it was co-developing with Novartis, called IMO-2134.

The end of the Novartis deal isn’t the end of the world for Idera. It still has active collaborations with Germany-based drug-maker Merck KGaA and Whitehouse Station, NJ-based Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK). Idera also announced this morning that Merck & Co. has opted to extend their three-year-old research agreement for another year to develop Idera’s immune system-stimulating drugs for treating infectious disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Terms of the extended agreement weren’t disclosed. Idera’s drugs deliver fragments of DNA or RNA into cells to trigger immune receptors known as toll-like receptors. The firm finished the quarter ending September 30 with $46.1 million in the bank.