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Pharmaceutical firm Roche (NASDAQOTH: RHHBY ) and biotech company Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: IONS ) have agreed to a partnership to develop treatments for Huntington's disease. The two companies, which announced the agreement in a press statement on Isis's site, will look to combine technologies and expertise in order to discover and bring drugs to market.
Roche will make a $30 million payment up front to Isis, part of a total payment schedule that could ramp up to $362 million in all if the development hits certain milestones. Roche can license any drugs Isis discovers through the first phase 1 trial's completion. That option would leave Roche in charge of global development for a drug candidate, as well as navigating global regulatory hurdles and commercialization.
Isis's lead drug candidate for the disease and Roche's "brain shuttle" technology will both be explored as viable therapies for Huntington's. Shafique Virani, Roche Partnering's global head of neuroscience, cardiovascular, and metabolism, explained the move in the statement: "This dual track development program ensures whichever candidate compound proves to be most promising -- Isis' lead target or Roche's brain shuttle version -- can be taken forward to pivotal clinical trials."
Huntington's disease currently has no effective treatment or cure, and the genetically inherited brain disorder eventually leads to patient death via complications. Current treatment options involve fighting or slowing symptoms of the disease, according to Isis' statement.