Biogen Idec Strikes $100M Upfront Deal With Isis for Neurology

Biogen Idec has been working with Isis Pharmaceuticals on neurological disorders for a while, and today it’s making an even bigger bet on the company and its antisense technology.

Weston, MA-based Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB), the world’s largest maker of multiple sclerosis drugs, said today it has agreed to pay $100 million upfront to Carlsbad, CA-based Isis (NASDAQ: ISIS) under a six-year collaboration to develop neurology drugs using Isis’s antisense technology. Under this deal, Isis stands to collect further milestone payments worth as much as $220 million for successful antisense drug candidates, plus license fees and royalties on drugs developed through the collaboration. Biogen said it plans to use Isis’s antisense technology in the lab to help build out its pipeline of drug candidates, which could be small molecule chemical compounds, biologic drugs, or antisense molecules themselves.

The partnership is the kind of thing Isis has long strived for as an antisense R&D focused operation that leans on partners for commercial help. It’s also a sign that Biogen has been happy with what it’s seen from Isis up close the past couple years. Biogen struck a deal in January 2012 to work with Isis on developing antisense treatments for spinal muscular atrophy, and followed up six months later with another partnership focused on a rare muscular disorder called myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1). The relationship further expanded that year with a research collaboration concentrated on making drugs against three molecular targets for neurological disorders.

“This strategic alliance with Isis builds on our existing relationship and combines the unique strengths of each partner to significantly advance the treatment of serious neurological diseases,” said Doug Williams, Biogen’s executive vice president of R&D, in a statement.

Shares of Isis climbed 11 percent to $31 at 10 am Eastern time. Isis management said it plans to discuss the collaboration in some more detail in a conference call with analysts at 11:30 am Eastern/8:30 am Pacific.

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