Regulus snags milestone in MS biomarker deal with Biogen

Regulus Therapeutics ($RGLS) has partnered up with Biogen Idec ($BIIB) to identify microRNA biomarkers in the blood of patients with multiple sclerosis. The California biotech has charted some progress, pocketing a milestone payment and moving toward developing a companion diagnostic.

Under the deal struck last year, Regulus has used its microRNA analysis platform to profile more than 400 serum samples from MS patients and compare them against those from healthy volunteers, ferreting out biomarker signatures in the process. Next, the partners will work to validate the microRNA-based biomarkers so far discovered for patients with relapse-remitting MS, planning to eventually use the technology to screen for ideal patients and develop a companion test for a Biogen drug now in development. 

"We are very excited about our early success in this collaboration and are hopeful that our efforts advance Biogen Idec's work in treating MS," Regulus Chief Scientific Officer Neil Gibson said in a statement. "Further, we believe that achievement of this milestone assigns significant value to our proprietary technology and demonstrates the potential of our emerging biomarkers platform to support our microRNA therapeutic pipeline."

For Regulus, the partnership follows similar deals with AstraZeneca ($AZN), GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Sanofi ($SNY). The company's technology has also made it a popular collaborator for drug developers looking to tap the potential of gene-regulating microRNAs. Regulus' promise was enough to convince investors to bankroll an $81 million IPO last year, long before the biotech boom that has lined the pockets of more than 40 drug developers this year.

Biogen has made its name in the MS field, most recently snagging FDA approval for the blockbuster-hopeful Tecfidera and still profiting off the successful Avonex and Tysabri.

- read the statement

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