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Biogen embraces Isis again in early-stage collaboration worth up to $630M

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Biogen Idec CEO George Scangos

Less than a year after Biogen Idec ($BIIB) inked its first development pact with the antisense experts at Isis Pharmaceuticals ($ISIS), the big biotech has come back to the bargaining table to sign off on their third deal, with Biogen paying $30 million upfront and promising up to $200 million more in milestones for each of three new programs aimed at neurological diseases and neuromuscular disorders. Biogen has now paid Isis $71 million in upfront payments and committed to more than $1.1 billion in potential milestones.

The collaborators won't pin down exactly which targets they have in mind for their discovery pact, but Biogen is clearly deeply impressed with Isis' technology. The new deal also underscores Biogen's interest in replenishing its early-stage work after CEO George Scangos realigned the biotech's efforts after taking over two years ago, focusing closely on late-stage assets like BG-12 for multiple sclerosis, which is given good odds for going on to a near-term approval for multiple sclerosis.

"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 neurologic diseases."

Biogen and Isis--which partnered with Alnylam to create Regulus Therapeutics--first partnered up in January on a new drug for rare cases of spinal muscular atrophy. They followed up in June with a pact covering myotonic dystrophy Type 1, a genetic neuromuscular condition.

- here's the press release

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