Isis may be the goddess of motherhood, but Isis Pharmaceuticals
Its latest payment -- $2 million from Bristol-Myers Squibb
The drug targets convertase subtilisin kexin 9 (PCSK9), a human proprotein that has been shown to increase LDL-cholesterol -- that's the bad kind. The antisense drug lowers the concentration of PCSK9 and thus LDL-cholesterol -- in the laboratory, at least. Bristol will be responsible for bringing it through the clinic and Isis will get royalty payments if it's approved.
The problem with most antisense drugs is that they're made up of nucleic acids which break down easily in acidic stomachs; therefore they need to be injected (or treat a disease on the outside of the body). This compound isn't going to be a top-selling cholesterol drug like Pfizer's
Ironically, Bristol's new drug might be competing with another drug developed by Isis to treat those patients with extremely high cholesterol. The antisense drugmaker recently signed a marketing deal with Genzyme
Isis probably doesn't care which drug eventually wins, as long as both are approved by the FDA and it keeps getting handed lollypop milestone payments.
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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Pfizer is a pick of both the Income Investor and Inside Value newsletters. The Fool has a disclosure policy.