AZ secures rights from Ionis for first-ever antisense KRAS cancer drug in $165m deal

pharmafile | December 19, 2016 | News story | Research and Development, Sales and Marketing AstraZeneca, Ionis, KRAS 

AstraZeneca has paid a $28 million milestone payment in its partnership with Ionis Pharmaceuticals over the licensing rights to anticancer treatment AZD4785, the first clinically-developed drug to directly target the KRAS gene regardless of mutation type.

Discovered by Ionis, the drug, also known as IONIS-KRAS- 2.5Rx directly targets KRAS, a gene responsible for directing the production of K-Ras, a protein whose principle function is to regulate cell division. With this agreement, AZ will oversee continued development and will also receive licensing and commercialisation rights to the compound; the total partnership is worth a potential $137 million, including developmental and regulatory milestone payments as well as low double digit royalties for sales of AZD4785.

After striking a partnership last year, both companies have been working together on the discovery and development of antisense therapies, small chemically-modified nucleic acids which act as protein production inhibitors to treat genetic disorders.

Ionis’ senior VP of drug discovery Brett Monia commented: “We and AstraZeneca are uniquely positioned to advance the first antisense drug in development to target KRAS, as this is a very challenging target to engage with other therapeutic modalities. Our partner AstraZeneca has extensive experience in successfully developing and commercializing drugs to treat cancer and we look forward to working with them to advance this innovative cancer treatment through clinical development.”

Ionis has received over $85 million from the pharma giant since the beginning of their collaboration.

Matt Fellows

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