Regulus Therapeutics has staked out a strategy as a developer of drugs that alter microRNA, but today it has struck a new deal with Biogen Idec to look at microRNA in a different way. The plan is to track the progress of multiple sclerosis and how patients might be responding to a given therapy.
San Diego-based Regulus, a spinoff from Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Isis Pharmaceuticals, said today it has formed the new partnership with Weston, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB). Biogen, the world’s largest maker of drugs for multiple sclerosis, will be working with Regulus to analyze microRNAs as biomarkers of how patients are doing with MS. Financial terms weren’t disclosed in today’s statement, but Biogen has agreed to make an investment in Regulus, and provide upfront cash and provide more future payments if the R&D program reaches certain milestones.
Multiple sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease which causes patients to lose their vision and ability to walk, affects an estimated 400,000 people in the U.S. No one knows what causes it, and the disease lacks a definitive molecular diagnostic test that can say for sure when a person has the disease. Regulus said in today’s statement that microRNA biomarkers may be used to help drugmakers like Biogen to better select patients who are likely to respond to drugs in clinical trials, to help develop companion diagnostics, and to monitor the progressive course of disease and whether it’s flaring up.
“Utilizing innovative technology such as biomarkers can help us make more informed decisions earlier in clinical development and is key to our overall company strategy to enhance early-stage discovery efforts,” said Steve Holtzman, Biogen Idec’s executive vice president of corporate development, in a statement.
The partnership for Regulus is the second one announced this week. Regulus said earlier this week that AstraZeneca agreed to collaborate on microRNA drug development against three exclusive molecular targets for cardiovascular disease, metabolic diseases, and cancer. That deal brought Regulus $28 million through an equity investment and upfront payment.
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