AstraZeneca licenses Ionis’ NASH drug for $30M as momentum builds in the field

Just months after a deal with identical payouts, Ionis today announced it’s licensing yet another one of its drugs to AstraZeneca. The pharma giant is paying a $30 million license fee to gain access to Ionis’ NASH drug, with $300 million available in milestones should the program have boundless success.

Stanley Crooke, Ionis

The program, called IONIS-AZ6-2.5LRx, is designed to inhibit an undisclosed target to treat patients with NASH, a space that continues to bubble with activity, although no approved treatments have hit the market. Last week, San Mateo-based Terns said it would snatch up three NASH programs from Eli Lilly, and in March Alnylam and Regeneron teamed up to tackle a promising target for sever liver diseases.

This new deal between Ionis and AstraZeneca is reminiscent of a different pact announced in February, in which AstraZeneca paid $30 million upfront to develop and commercialize IONIS-AZ5-2.5Rx. The drug, featuring Ionis’ antisense technology, is meant to treat a genetically associated form of kidney disease. The exact target for that program is also kept under wraps.

The partnership between AstraZeneca and Ionis goes back to 2015, when the duo struck an agreement to discover and develop antisense therapies for cardiovascular, metabolic, and renal diseases. In February, Ionis said that deal had brought in $220 million for the company.

Ionis stock $IONS is up nearly 2% in pre-market trading, and AstraZeneca $AZN is up 1%.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
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Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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