Isis grabs $31M in quick AstraZeneca cash during busy dealmaking round

A day after inking a sizable discovery pact with Biogen Idec ($BIIB), Isis Pharmaceuticals ($ISIS) is back with another deal involving another marquee player--this time with a program-hungry AstraZeneca ($AZN). The pharma giant is paying Isis $31 million up front along with an unspecified package of milestones for new antisense drugs that can hit 5 cancer drugs. And AstraZeneca is snagging the rights to one of Isis' early-stage drugs, ISIS-STAT3Rx, for advanced lymphomas.

The Isis therapies are designed to destroy the RNA needed to create certain disease-causing proteins. ISIS-STAT3Rx, for example, targets STAT3, a protein that plays a role in cancer. AstraZeneca wants to employ that antisense technology along with new chemistry to amp up the potency of cancer therapies, creating the foundation for a new generation of oncology therapies that can attack targets that traditional small molecules and antibodies can't reach effectively.

"Isis' antisense technology platform allows AstraZeneca to broaden our oncology research efforts beyond traditional drug discovery methods, while at the same time becoming more specific about how we target cancer," said Susan Galbraith, head of the AstraZeneca Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit. "AstraZeneca's expertise in oncology translational science and our global capabilities in development and commercialization of oncology products and Isis' innovative approach to discovering novel medicines reflect a common goal of bringing new medicines to cancer patients."

Isis gets $25 million up front and $6 million in early 2013, provided the research work is still under way, as well as royalties on any approved products. It's been a fruitful year on the dealmaking front for Isis. Yesterday's $630 million pact with Biogen Idec was its third R&D collaboration of 2012. AstraZeneca has also been busy at the partnering table this year, anxious to prove that it can build the kind of pipeline that can produce a steady series of big new products. 

- here's the press release

Special Reports: Top 20 biotech licensing deals in H1 2012 | AstraZeneca - The Biggest R&D Spenders In Biopharma

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