US biotechnology company Biogen Idec has agreed to pay up to $299m (including milestone payments) for the rights to a drug for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), the foremost genetic cause of infant mortality.
ISIS-SMNRx is an investigational drug from Isis Pharmaceuticals that has been granted orphan drug status by the FDA for the treatment of SMA.
Biogen Idec and Isis Pharmaceuticals have formed an exclusive global option and collaboration agreement to develop and commercialise the drug.
Isis will receive an upfront payment of $29 million and up to $45 million in milestone payments before the drug is licensed, then up to a further $225 million in regulatory milestone payments, as well as royalties.
Isis will be responsible for the clinical development of ISIS-SMNRx through to the completion of phase III clinical trials. Biogen Idec will be responsible for the drug’s global development, regulatory approval and commercialisation.
SMA is a genetic disorder that causes muscle atrophy and weakness, affecting one child in every 10,000. In its most severe form, SMA reduces a child’s life expectancy to about two years.
ISIS-SMNRx is an ‘antisense’ genetic therapy that alters the splicing of a closely related gene to compensate for the defective gene that causes SMA.
“SMA can kill children before their second birthday and there are currently no therapies to treat the disease,” said George A. Scangos, CEO of Biogen Idec. “The unmet need could not be any greater, and Isis’ antisense compound has the potential to be a highly effective, first-to-market therapy for this deadly disease.”
Stanley T. Crooke, CEO of Isis, commented: “Biogen Idec’s expertise in the global development and commercialisation of innovative new therapies for neurologic diseases is a great strategic fit to advance ISIS-SMNRx.”