Biogen Idec Announces 3rd Collaboration of 2012 with Isis Pharmaceuticals

Biogen Idec, an American biotechnology company, and Isis Pharmaceuticals, announced today a joint partnership between the two companies. They have entered into agreement on a global collaboration effort under which the companies will discover and develop several antisense drugs to treat neurological and neuromuscular disorders.

The two companies have a previously established working agreement and are developing other antisense medications for spinal muscular atrophy and myotonic dystrophy type I.

Bygone Idec, Inc. is a Cambridge Massachusetts-based company specializing in medicines for neurological disorders, autoimmune disorders and cancer. The company is a merger of two different companies. Biogen Inc. and IDEC Pharmaceuticals, formed by two former biotech pioneers Ivor Royston and Howard Birndorf.

Biogen Idec’s manufactures numerous medicines for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, Inc. including Avonex and Tysabri, which is also approved for the treatment of Crohn’s disease and is co-marketed with the drug manufacturer Elan. Biogen also manufactures are Rituxan, approved for the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis, and is manufactured in conjunction with Genentech.

Isis Pharmaceuticals, is based in Carlsbad, California, and is a world leader in the anti-sense drug discovery and development industry, as well as an innovator in the RNA targeted drug arena.

Upper management at Biogen Idec was extremely excited about the collaboration.

“Our latest collaboration with Isis to discover and develop novel targets for the treatment of neurological disorders is a perfect fit within our early-stage research strategy,” said Richard Brudnick, vice president and co-head of business development at Biogen Idec. “This will be our third collaboration with Isis, which is reflective of our respect for them as a partner and as a leader in antisense technology. By combining Isis’ knowledge with Biogen Idec’s expertise as a leader in neurology, we believe this latest discovery collaboration holds great potential for finding novel approaches to treating neurological diseases.”

Isis Pharmaceuticals executives were even more upbeat.

“We look forward to broadening our drug discovery and development efforts to include new neurological disease targets with Biogen Idec, a world leader in neurological diseases. Combining our anti-sense drug discovery with Biogen Idec’s expertise in severe neurological diseases has significantly enhanced the development of our spinal muscular atrophy and myotonic dystrophy programs. For example, Biogen Idec’s contributions have added significant value across multiple areas, such as government affairs, biomarker development, clinical trial design and regulatory expertise, bolstering our development activities for these programs,” said B. Lynne Parshall, chief operating officer and chief financial officer at Isis. “We have been very successful in our partnering efforts this year, driven primarily by the advancement of the drugs in our pipeline. The high level of interest in our drug discovery technologies allows us to select optimal partner for each program, while commanding significant value for our assets.”

Earlier this year, Biogen Idec and Isis Pharmaceuticals, announced to worldwide option and collaboration agreements, to develop and market antisense medicines for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy and myotonic dystrophy type I.

Antisense drug therapy is a treatment option for genetic disorders or infections. When the genetic DNA sequence of an identified gene is known to be the cause of a particular disease, antisense therapy indicates that the DNA strand of nucleic acid has to be synthesized to bind the messenger RNA produced by that gene inactivating it, and effectively turning the gene off.

Antisense drug research is being developed, to present treatment options for lung cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, malignant melanoma, malignant glioma, diabetes, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Other auto-inflammatory diseases such as asthma, arthritis and pouchitis have been identified as possible targets for this drug therapy.

Recent advancements in stem cell research and DNA strand assignment as treatment options may well help this effort.

Article by Jim Donahue

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