AstraZeneca is paying Regulus Therapeutics $28 million up front as part of a strategic alliance focused on the discovery and development of microRNA therapeutics against three specified targets in the fields of cardiovascular metabolic diseases and oncology. The payment from AstraZeneca will be made in the form of an equity investment and up front cash. Under terms of the deal Regulus will lead preclinical development, and AstraZeneca will lead and fund clinical development and commercialization activities. Regulus could receive additional clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones, plus sales royalties.

The collaboration includes Regulus’ lead cardiovascular/metabolic disease program targeting microRNA-33 (miR-33), which is in development for treating atherosclerosis. The firm says inhibiting miR-33 using an anti-miR promotes reverse cholesterol transport, or the efflux of cholesterol from inflammatory macrophages in atherosclerotic plaques. Preclinical studies in a mouse model of atherosclerosis demonstrated that the treatment led to a 35% reduction in arterial plaque size.

“MicroRNA therapeutics have the potential to open up innovative and important treatment options for patients,” states Gunnar Olsson, vp and head of AstraZeneca’s cardiovascular and gastrointestinal innovative medicines unit. “Through this collaboration we will marry Regulus’ expertise in the microRNA field with our own internal drug development experience with the goal of bringing new treatment options to patients with atherosclerosis-related disease, metabolic disturbances, cancer, and potentially other therapeutic areas.” 

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