Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Wednesday it will work with GlaxoSmithKline PLC to develop treatments for rare diseases in a collaboration that could bring Isis almost $1.5 billion in payments.
Isis develops drugs that use microRNA technology, which can turn parts of genes on or off to treat diseases. It will work with GlaxoSmithKline on as many as six drugs to treat unspecified rare and serious conditions, including infectious illnesses and diseases that can cause blindness.
GlaxoSmithKline will pay Isis $35 million upfront. The company is based in London and is one of the world's largest drugmakers. Isis will handle early research and development on the drug candidates, and it could get about $20 million per program if the drugs reach mid-stage testing.
At that time, GlaxoSmithKline will have the option to license the drugs and take over all further development and commercialization. Isis said total milestone payments would be close to $1.5 billion if development of all six programs is successful. If any of the drugs are approved and reach the market, Isis will receive royalty payments of up to 10 percent on sales.
Since 2008, GlaxoSmithKline has worked with Isis joint venture Regulus Therapeutics on treatments for inflammatory diseases. Last month, the companies expanded that partnership to include drug candidates for hepatitis C. Regulus is a joint venture between Isis and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals.
Isis' other partners include Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche.