Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:IONS) announced today that it has earned $28 million from AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) following AstraZeneca’s completion of IND-supporting studies and license of IONIS-KRAS-2.5Rx, or AZD4785.  IONIS-KRAS-2.5Rx is a Generation 2.5 antisense drug discovered by Ionis designed to directly target KRAS, one of the most frequently mutated genes in cancer.

KRAS mutations are thought to underlie the pathogenesis of up to 30% of human tumors.  The KRAS protein is involved in regulating cell division and tumor cell survival.  However, developing therapeutics using traditional drug modalities to block KRAS activity has proven difficult. IONIS-KRAS-2.5Rx will be the first drug to enter clinical development that directly targets KRAS, regardless of mutation type.  AstraZeneca will be responsible for further developing and commercializing IONIS-KRAS-2.5Rx.

Brett Monia, Ph.D., senior vice president of drug discovery at Ionis, said: “We and AstraZeneca are uniquely positioned to advance the first antisense drug in development to target KRAS as this is a very challenging target to engage with other therapeutic modalities.  Our partner AstraZeneca has extensive experience in successfully developing and commercializing drugs to treat cancer and we look forward to working with them to advance this innovative cancer treatment through clinical development.”

As IONIS-KRAS-2.5Rx advances in development, Ionis is eligible to receive up to $137 million for additional development and regulatory milestone payments.  In addition, Ionis is eligible to receive up to low double-digit royalties from sales of the drug. (Original Source)

Shares of Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc. are currently rising 1.71% to $50.50, or up $0.85 in pre-market trading Friday. IONS has a 1-year high of $62.68 and a 1-year low of $19.59. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $40.72 and its 200-day moving average is $32.17.

On the ratings front, Ionis Pharmaceuticals has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on November 20, Leerink Swann analyst Paul Matteis reiterated a Hold rating on IONS. Separately, on November 14, Piper Jaffray’s Joshua Schimmer reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $51.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Paul Matteis and Joshua Schimmer have a yearly average return of 9.6% and a loss of -6.1% respectively. Matteis has a success rate of 58% and is ranked #463 out of 4279 analysts, while Schimmer has a success rate of 39% and is ranked #4146.

Sentiment on the street is mostly bullish on IONS stock. Out of 8 analysts who cover the stock, 4 suggest a Buy rating, 3 suggest a Hold, and one recommends to Sell the stock.

Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. engages in the development and commercialization of antisense drug discovery. It operates its business through the Ionis Core and Akea Therapeutics segments. The Ionis Core segment involves a a novel drug discovery platform generate a broad pipeline of drugs. The Akea Therapeutics segment develops and commercializes drugs for cardiometabolic disorders.