MD Anderson and Ionis Pharmaceuticals form strategic alliance to advance novel cancer therapeutics

Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.,and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center today announced the formation of a strategic alliance to discover and develop novel cancer therapeutics.  Combining advances made with Ionis’ antisense technology, which provides enhanced potency for effectively engaging targets in solid and liquid tumors, with MD Anderson’s expertise will allow Ionis and MD Anderson to develop novel therapeutic strategies to treat patients with a variety of cancers.

“MD Anderson is dedicated to accelerating the end of cancer. As part of our Moon Shots Program, we identified many new, traditionally undruggable cancer targets, which could offer a potentially fresh approach to treating cancer,” said Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., chair, Systems Biology at MD Anderson. “This collaboration allows our experts to take advantage of a novel technology capable of targeting undruggable targets that we believe will add to our ability to develop therapeutic strategies that will transform patient outcomes.”

Mills is co-leader of the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Moon Shot, one of 12 in MD Anderson’s effort to reduce cancer deaths by accelerating conversion of scientific discoveries into new therapies, prevention approaches and early detection.

“MD Anderson has undertaken groundbreaking work in identifying novel cancer targets and building pre-clinical cancer models that will streamline our collective drug discovery efforts. Their genetically defined patient populations should greatly shorten the overall development timelines and enhance our drug discovery efforts as we move our programs forward,” said Brett Monia, senior vice president, antisense drug discovery at Ionis Pharmaceuticals. “Our Generation 2.5 chemistry coupled with the expertise of a world leading cancer center, like MD Anderson, will drive our oncology drug development program and pipeline.”

In the collaboration, Ionis and MD Anderson will work together to validate novel undruggable cancer targets selected based on human genomic data.  Ionis will lead the drug discovery efforts against mutually agreed upon novel targets and MD Anderson will lead development activities through clinical proof of concept.  Following clinical proof of concept, Ionis and MD Anderson plan to identify a partner to complete development and to commercialize each drug with Ionis leading business development efforts.

“We are excited to have MD Anderson as a strategic partner for our cancer franchise. This alliance allows Ionis and MD Anderson to combine their collective expertise and resources to identify and ultimately develop novel anti-cancer drugs,” said Sarah Boyce, chief business officer at Ionis Pharmaceuticals. “This alliance enables Ionis and MD Anderson to focus on their respective areas of expertise, thereby facilitating rapid progress in moving each drug through the clinic. We believe this collaboration has the opportunity to create novel therapeutic agents that can provide great benefit for cancer patients.”