Isis Execs Upbeat as AstraZeneca Expands Cancer Drug Collaboration

Xconomy San Diego — 

Executives at Carlsbad-based Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS) were upbeat in a conference call this week, after the company reported encouraging news on several fronts.

The company said Monday it had received a $10 million milestone payment from AstraZeneca after the London-based pharmaceutical giant advanced their joint development of a drug for liver cancer and added a second experimental cancer drug to their collaboration.

Isis also said last week that underwriters of its secondary stock offering, which was completed May 14, exercised their options to purchase an additional 617,869 shares of Isis’ common stock. Including the 9 million shares sold previously, Isis said gross proceeds from the offering would be about $182.7 million.

Isis Chairman and CEO Stan Crooke and Brett Monia, the company’s senior vice president of antisense drug discovery, offered some interesting insights into the promise of the company’s antisense technology during a conference call Monday with analysts and investors. (Seeking Alpha’s transcript of the call is here.)

In a partnership signed last year, Isis and AstraZeneca agreed to collaborate in the discovery and development of antisense drugs to treat cancer. Antisense drugs are intended to “silence” the activity of cancer-causing genes by binding to RNA fragments that are used to produce proteins. The two companies first began working on a compound designated STAT3Rx for patients with advanced lymphoma and liver cancer. In a statement yesterday, Isis reported encouraging results from an early study of STAT3Rx at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago.

In the conference call, Crooke said … Next Page »

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