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High-Profile Role For Ionis in Local Pharma Sector

Every month in 2018 seemed to bring a major development at Ionis Pharmaceuticals, from a $1 billion deal to hope in Huntington’s disease.

Not everything was positive. In August, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declined to approve Ionis’ drug candidate waylivra, reportedly due to safety concerns. But waylivra could still hit the market as Ionis vowed to work with the FDA on a path forward.

Another Ionis drug, tegsedi, in October gained regulatory approval, pitting the company against a treatment from Alnylam Pharmaceuticals.

They’re targeting hereditary ATTR amyloidosis with polyneuropathy, in which abnormal protein buildup can be life threatening. 

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In other areas, Ionis appears peerless. The company’s potentially groundbreaking treatment in Huntington’s disease recently began a final-stage clinical trial. Huntington’s invariably robs sufferers of mental and physical abilities.

In March, Ionis reported that in a phase 1/2 trial its drug, Ionis-HTTRx, reduced the levels of a mutant protein found in Huntington’s disease patients. The goal is to stop or slow the disease’s progression.

A month later, it was announced Biogen will pay Ionis $1 billion as part of a 10-year collaboration around neurological drug development. The deal expanded the companies’ partnership, as Biogen commercialized Ionis’ blockbuster drug spinraza for spinal muscular atrophy. 

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