Last year Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY) of Cambridge, MA, joined forces with Isis Therapeutics (NASDAQ: ISIS) in Carlsbad, CA, to form a new affiliate, Regulus Therapeutics. All three companies are doing research on new different types of RNA-based drugs. Today the giant British pharma company GlaxoSmithKline and Regulus announced a new alliance. They will work together to discover, develop, and market therapeutics for inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The deal entitles Regulus to $20 million upfront, and there might more to come; under the agreement GSK has an option to license four different therapeutics. For each of these Regulus can get $144.5 million in different milestone payments, and also royalties on sales.
Regulus’ research is focused on “microRNA,” small pieces of RNA that are believed to regulate the activity of a large number of human genes. MicroRNAs were discovered only recently; so far 500 of them have been identified in the human genome.