Ionis partners with 7SBio to ease blood-collection headache

7SBio's TAP device (7SBio)

Ionis Pharmaceuticals has entered into a collaboration with Seventh Sense Biosystems (7SBio). The deal connects Ionis to the manufacturer of a blood collection device that could simplify mitigation of its drugs’ safety risks.

Carlsbad, California-based Ionis’ route through clinical trials has been dogged by reports of low platelet counts. Ionis and spinout Akcea Therapeutics—which it still owns about three-quarters of—have maintained monitoring can mitigate the potential for this adverse event risk to cause harm. But the implementation of platelet monitoring requirements has encountered hiccups at trial sites, which should be better placed to perform the task than teams and patients in real-world settings.

Working with 7SBio could enable Ionis to lessen the burden of its platelet monitoring regimes.

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7SBio is the company behind TAP, a device designed to make blood collection simpler and quicker. The plan is to replace the tourniquets, needles and lancets associated with blood collection with a single-use, 1.5-inch, push-button device. 

TAP is placed on the patient's upper arm. When the button on the device is pressed, it fires an array of microneedles that collect 100µL of blood from capillaries. The collection process typically takes three minutes, although 7SBio has seen it take as much as seven minutes. An indicator window turns red when collection is complete.

Ionis thinks this process could benefit its patient-monitoring plans. 

“These new devices can improve patients' experience with blood testing by making the whole procedure fast, easy and painless, and is one of several approaches we are pursuing to make platelet monitoring more convenient for patients,” Ionis COO B. Lynne Parshall said in a statement.

RELATED: FDA clears 7SBio's 'virtually painless' blood collection device

7SBio picked up an FDA nod to use the device to test HbA1c levels in diabetics in February. That application is of little interest to Ionis. 7SBio is also working to expand use of the device. And there is also already the option for labs covered by CLIA to use the device in other ways, provided they can validate it.

Ionis has gained the chance to influence further development of the device by collaborating with 7SBio and contributing $2 million to its series C round. 7SBio unveiled the series C in November, at which time the fundraising haul stood at $10 million. Ionis joins Novartis, LabCorp, Polaris Partners and Flagship Ventures on the list of series C investors.