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Biogen Inks Deal with Regulus

Zacks Equity Research

Regulus Therapeutics Inc. and Biogen Idec (BIIB) recently entered into a deal to identify microRNAs (micro-RiboNucleic Acids) as biomarkers for multiple sclerosis (MS). As per the terms of the deal, Regulus – a joint venture between Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (ALNY) and Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ISIS) – will receive upfront fees and milestone payments. Biogen will also make an investment in Regulus.

Biogen is the market leader in therapies for the treatment of MS. The company markets several MS drugs including Avonex and Tysabri. Biogen is working on consolidating its position in the MS market and has an impressive late-stage pipeline of drugs including oral MS candidate, BG-12.

Biogen believes that the use of microRNA biomarkers will enable better assessment of early stage MS candidates. Moreover, MicroRNA biomarkers have the potential to assist in the selection of optimal patient segments for clinical trials, developing companion diagnostics and monitoring disease progression or relapse.

We believe that the partnership with a big player like Biogen will help boost the development of Regulus’ microRNA therapeutics. Regulus is evaluating microRNA therapeutics in several areas including oncology, fibrosis, hepatitis C and metabolic diseases.

A few days ago, AstraZeneca (AZN) and Regulus entered into an agreement to discover, develop, and commercialize microRNA therapeutics for three pre-clinical candidates. Regulus has collaborated with several companies including GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi (SNY) for microRNA therapeutics.

Our Recommendation

We currently have an Outperform recommendation on Biogen. Biogen carries a Zacks #1 Rank (short-term Strong Buy rating). Currently, we have a Neutral recommendation on Isis Pharma and Outperform recommendation on Alnylam. Both stocks carry a Zacks #3 Rank (short-term Hold rating).

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