Isis Pharmaceuticals licenses second anti-cancer drug candidate to Lilly

Isis Pharmaceuticals announced today that Eli Lilly and Company licensed LY2275796, a second-generation antisense anti-cancer drug candidate for clinical development.

LY2275796 targets eukaryotic initiation factor- 4E (eIF-4E), a protein involved in the translation of key growth and survival factors that drive tumor progression, angiogenesis and metastases. The compound was discovered in the Isis -- Lilly drug discovery collaboration, and is the second antisense drug candidate from this broad, strategic alliance to be licensed to Lilly for development. Isis will receive a $750,000 payment from Lilly for the license.

"Our collaboration with Lilly is productive and we are pleased to contribute new, cutting-edge drug candidates to Lilly's oncology portfolio. Already, we have successfully licensed this compound and LY2181308, a second- generation drug candidate against the cancer target survivin, which is planned to enter Phase 1 trials later this year. We are optimistic that additional drug candidates will emerge from the alliance not only for cancer, but also for inflammatory and metabolic diseases," said C. Frank Bennett, Ph.D., Isis' Vice President, Antisense Research. "eIF-4E and survivin are drug targets that have been of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry and the oncology community at large, yet considered 'undruggable' with traditional small molecule compounds. However, using our proprietary second-generation chemistry, the collaboration readily identified selective and potent inhibitors to these targets."

Lilly will fund the continued development of LY2275796 and under the terms of the companies' alliance, Lilly will pay Isis development and regulatory milestones and royalties on potential product sales. The Isis -- Lilly oncology relationship, initiated in June 2002 and extended earlier this year, builds on an ongoing alliance previously established by the companies to discover antisense drugs in the areas of inflammatory and metabolic diseases.

LY2275796 targets eIF-4E, a protein that is upregulated or overexpressed in a variety of cancers, including breast, head and neck, prostate, lung, bladder, colon, thyroid and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. The molecule facilitates the synthesis of tumor angiogenic factors (factors that facilitate the growth of new blood vessels to support the development and progression of tumors), growth factors and survival factors by selectively enhancing their translation. Based on scientific literature, there is a strong indication that eIF-4E may act as a critical "switch" in cancer progression.

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