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Glaxo Signs Drug Development Deal With Regulus

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline inked a deal with Carlsbad-based Regulus Therapeutics LLC valued at up to $600 million to develop new microRNA drugs that target inflammatory disease, the companies said April 17.

Under the agreement, Regulus will be responsible for developing microRNA drugs targeted at inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease; GlaxoSmithKline will have the option to license prospective products.

Regulus will receive $20 million up front and may be eligible to receive over $144 million in milestone payments for each of the four collaboration targets and drugs developed as a result. Regulus said it could also receive double-digit royalty payments if a product is commercialized.

“This is a significant deal that comes early in Regulus’ life cycle contributing to the company’s (efforts) in the American field of microRNA therapeutics,” Kleanthis Xanthopoulos, president and chief executive of Regulus, told investors during a morning conference call.

Less than eight months ago, Cambridge, Mass.-based Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Carlsbad-based Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc. teamed up to form Regulus, a biotechnology company focused on commercializing drugs made with microRNA, or miRNA, technology. MiRNAs are thought to regulate the expression of about a third of human genes and scientists have been studying their potential to treat a wide range of diseases.

John Maraganore, chief executive of Alnylam, told investors that he expected Regulus to “dominate the microRNA space.”

Shares of Isis, traded under the symbol ISIS on the Nasdaq, were up more than 3 percent in morning trading April 17, at $17.10.

, Heather Chambers

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