Partner Bayer pushes Ionis' antithrombotic drug into mid-stage development
In 2015, when Ionis Pharmaceuticals carried the ill-fated name of Isis Pharmaceuticals, it granted Bayer the license to develop its programs targeting Factor XI — a clotting factor produced in the liver — for the treatment of clotting disorders. On Wednesday, the German drugmaker supported taking one of their experimental anti-thrombotic therapies into a Phase II trial, triggering a $10 million milestone payment for Ionis.
Including the latest installment, Ionis has generated $185 million from the deal. Bayer will now shoulder the development, regulatory and commercialization activities and costs — although Ionis is eligible to receive more in potential milestone and royalty payments.
Enhanced levels of Factor XI raise the risk of thrombosis and can be responsible for heart attacks and strokes. Ionis’ therapy, called IONIS-FXI-LR, is designed to diminish the production of Factor XI.
Although existing anticoagulants reduce the risk of thrombosis, they typically carry a higher bleeding risk.
“Our antisense medicine targeting Factor XI demonstrates potent antithrombotic activity with little to no bleeding in multiple patient populations. This enables, for the first time, the potential to separate anti-thrombotic activity from bleeding risk,” said Brett Monia, chief operating officer at Ionis, in a statement.
Antisense drugs are engineered to interrupt the production of disease-causing proteins by targeting the specific corresponding messenger RNA (mRNA) that encodes that protein, thereby manipulating protein production.
The announcement comes days after Ionis, and its sister company Akcea, licensed to Pfizer $PFE an antisense therapy for certain cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in a deal worth up to $1.5 billion.