Regulus teams with Biogen to develop MS diagnostic

Regulus Therapeutics signed a deal to lend its microRNA know-how to Biogen Idec ($BIIB), which looks to develop diagnostics for multiple sclerosis.

Neither company disclosed the terms of the partnership, but Biogen will make an up-front investment in Regulus, followed by milestone payments. The deal is meant to identify microRNA biomarkers in the blood of patients with MS, eventually developing a means to select patient groups for drug trials and creating companion diagnostics for pipeline treatments from Biogen.

Biogen already markets the MS treatments Avonex and Tysabri, and the company is developing BG-12, an oral-delivery MS drug for which the company has blockbuster hopes. Teaming with Regulus and integrating the company's technology will help speed along discovery and development, Biogen Executive Vice President Steven Holtzman said in a statement.

For Regulus, pairing up with a firm with Biogen's reach and experience will help the company push its proprietary tech further along, CEO Garry Menzel said.

Neither company is new to the game of pharma-diagnostics partnerships. Earlier this year, Biogen tapped Quest Diagnostics ($DGX) to develop a companion diagnostic for Tysabri, identifying the patients at risk for developing a rare brain infection with the drug. Regulus has lent its biomarker technology to other Big Pharma players, forming alliances with AstraZeneca ($AZN), GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Sanofi ($SNY).

- read the companies' statement

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