Isis Pharma, Biogen Idec Partner to Tackle Brain Disorders

Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ISIS) said Monday it has joined forces with Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB) in a collaboration designed to advance the treatment for neurological disorders.

Isis could reap licensing and milestone payments of more than $320 million from the deal. Shares of the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company enjoyed an 11% increase to $31.09 in recent trade.

Much larger peer Biogen, which has a market cap of close to $54 billion, also saw its shares edge narrowly into the green on the news.

The two have entered into a broad six-year collaboration that combines Biogen’s patented neurology portfolio with Isis’ leadership in antisense technology to develop novel therapies for brain disorders. Antisense tech alters a gene’s function, serving to either silence a mutation or activate a gene to compensate for a genetic defect.

“Antisense is a validated technology that we believe will help build our pipeline of antisense, small molecule and biologics programs, strengthening our leadership in neurology,” Douglas Williams, Biogen’s executive vice president of research and development, said in a statement.

Biogen will gain exclusive rights to use Isis’ antisense tech for an upfront payment of $100 million. Isis is also eligible for additional milestone payments of up to $220 million, including license fees and royalty payments for treatments developed through the partnership, as well as additional amounts related to the cost of the clinical trials.

This is the fourth collaboration between the two in the last two years, with the others having focused on antisense drugs to treat spinal muscular atrophy and other neurological disorders.