In a first, AstraZeneca gains rights to an antisense KRAS drug in $165M Ionis deal

Brett Monia, Ionis

Brett Monia, Ionis

AstraZeneca is handing over $28 million to Ionis in exchange for rights to develop one of its early-stage cancer drugs. The pharma giant has also committed up to $137 million in development and regulatory milestones for ONIS-KRAS-2.5Rx, or AZD4785, after wrapping up IND-supporting studies.

The drug targets KRAS, which spawns genetic mutations that figure prominently in cancer cases, giving AstraZeneca boasting rights to the first antisense drug with KRAS as a target that will enter clinical development.

Ionis $IONS has been on something of a roller-coaster ride this year. The former Isis Pharmaceuticals has been hit with some concerns about safety issues while also scoring some big late-stage gains this year. Over the past six weeks the mood has been distinctly upbeat, though, with its shares up about 5% in pre-market trading today.

Brett Monia, PhD, senior vice president of drug discovery at Ionis, said:

“We and AstraZeneca are uniquely positioned to advance the first antisense drug in development to target KRAS as this is a very challenging target to engage with other therapeutic modalities.  Our partner AstraZeneca has extensive experience in successfully developing and commercializing drugs to treat cancer and we look forward to working with them to advance this innovative cancer treatment through clinical development.”

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