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The Pulse of the Pharmaceutical Industry

All Systems Go: Johnson & Johnson Reaches Out for Second Ionis GI Drug

Written by: | | Dated: Thursday, November 16th, 2017


By Alex Keown


Ionis Pharmaceuticals and Janssen have strengthened their alliance with a second deal for gastrointestinal drugs. Janssen put up $5 million to secure the licensing of Ionis’ antisense drug, IONIS-JBI2-2.5RX.

The Ionis drug is designed to locally reduce the production of an undisclosed target in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract for the treatment of a GI autoimmune disease. With this deal in place, Janssen will assume all global development, regulatory, and commercialization responsibilities for IONIS-JBI2-2.5RX for GI diseases.

Frank Bennet, head of research at Ionis, said the company was pleased with the continued collaboration with Janssen. He said IONIS-JBI2-2.5RX has the potential to treat autoimmune disorders in the GI tract that are underserved with current therapies.

“Our collaboration with Janssen has been very productive. This is the second drug Janssen has licensed in little over a year, which is the direct result of the speed and efficiency of our antisense technology,” Bennet said in a statement.

Shares of Ionis are up slightly this morning on the news of the second drug deal with Janssen. Ionis stock is trading at $54.06 as of 10:19 a.m.

Last year, Janssen and Ionis struck the licensing deal worth up to $810 million. The collaboration between the two companies is focused on the development and discovery of orally administered, locally acting RNA-targeted therapeutics for autoimmune diseases in the gastrointestinal tract. As part of the initial deal, Janssen paid $10 million in upfront monies for the oral gastrointestinal treatment, IONIS-JBI11-2.5. Much like the new drug licensed by Janssen, IONIS-JBI1-2.5 is an antisense drug designed to locally inhibit an undisclosed target in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Janssen has assumed all global development, regulatory and commercialization responsibilities related to this drug, as well as the newest one.

Earlier this month, Ionis licensed IONIS-DNM2-2.5RX to Dynacure. The drug is an antisense drug targeting dynamin 2 for the treatment of centronuclear myopathy (CNM). Under that deal, Dynacure paid Ionis $5 million in upfront fees. Ionis could earn up to $205 million in milestone payments.

Also this month, Ionis pushed forward with its treatment of patients with hereditary TTR amyloidosis (hATTR). Ionis submitted a new drug application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for inotersen. The company is also seeking marketing approval in Europe. If approved, the drug is expected to go head-to-head against Alynlam and its lead drug patisaran.  Analysts have indicated that Alnylam’s drug will have an advantage in the market. The Alnylam drug yielded greater efficacy results than Ionis’ drug. hATTR is an inherited, progressively debilitating, often fatal disease caused by mutations in the TTR gene. The mutations cause abnormal amyloid proteins to collect and damage organs and tissues, which can lead to peripheral sensory neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy and cardiomyopathy.


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