By Brady Huggett

Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc. added another impressive name to its 2001 list of collaborators ¿ Amgen Inc. ¿ by entering a three-year deal to use its technology to discover drugs from Amgen targets.

Although indications for the work were not revealed and the financial structure of the deal is veiled, Lynne Parshall, Isis¿ executive vice president and chief financial officer, called the agreement ¿a significant deal.¿

¿This is a pretty traditional drug discovery collaboration,¿ she told BioWorld Today. ¿We will be working together on the preclinical profile to find drugs. When drugs get to the clinical drug development stage, Amgen will take over.¿

Isis will use its second-generation chemistry, 2¿-0-methoxyethyl, to inhibit several gene targets. Amgen has the right to develop and commercialize any resulting antisense drugs. The deal includes success-based milestones and royalties on marketed products.

¿Financially, it¿s structured in a traditional way,¿ Parshall said. ¿We get an up-front fee, funding for research and then milestones and royalties.¿ If Amgen declines to take the resulting drugs into development, she added, Isis will have the opportunity to move them forward.

Amgen has the targets set both in number and type and the due diligence done between the companies has them ready to ¿hit the ground running¿ now that the contract is signed, Parshall said.

Isis has one product on the market, Vitravene, to treat CMV-induced retinitis in AIDS patients. It has 13 products in its pipeline, including ISIS 3521 in Phase III trials for non-small-cell lung cancer and ISIS 2302 in Phase III studies for Crohn¿s disease, initiated in late November. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 30, 2001.)

Isis is putting the finishing touches on a remarkable year. In May it signed with Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., licensing out its preclinical Type II diabetes antisense drug candidate, ISIS 113715, in a deal with a potential worth of $50 million. Months later, Isis signed with Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, to collaborate on Isis¿ antisense technology, with the anticancer compound ISIS 3521, the gemstone in the deal. That agreement has a potential worth of more than $400 million and the public announcement of the deal drove Isis¿ stock up $4.81, or almost 48 percent, on the day the news was released, closing at $14.89. Partnerships, Parshall said, are ¿consistent with our strategy of leveraging out technology with high-quality partners.¿ (See BioWorld Today, May 24, 2001, and Aug. 23, 2001.)

Add Amgen, of Thousand Oaks, Calif. ¿ far and away the largest biotechnology company in the land ¿ to Merck and Lilly and they make a formidable threesome, Parshall said.

¿This has been a tremendous year for us,¿ she said. ¿With Merck and Lilly, and now Amgen, all added for therapeutic deals, we are feeling tremendous about the uptake [of antisense technology].¿

Isis¿ stock (NASDAQ:ISIP) rose $2.84, or about 14.8 percent, to close at $21.99 on Thursday. Amgen¿s stock (NASDAQ:AMGN) fell $4.20 to end the day at $60.19.

No Comments