Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:IONS) announced today that it has advanced its lead drug candidate IONIS-AZ4-2.5-LRx, which has now been renamed AZD8233, into preclinical development. AZD8233 is designed to inhibit an undisclosed target to treat cardiovascular disease and is also the first of a new class of antisense drugs that uses both Ionis’ proprietary Generation 2.5 chemistry and its LIgand Conjugated Antisense or LICA technology.  In conjunction with this milestone, Ionis earned a $25 million milestone payment from AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN).

“This is the first drug to enter development under our strategic collaboration with AstraZeneca in cardiovascular, metabolic and renal diseases. We are pleased with how quickly this important program has advanced. AZD8233 incorporates many of the recent advancements we have made in antisense technology, including LICA and Generation 2.5 chemistry,” said Brett Monia, Ph.D., senior vice president of drug discovery at Ionis. “By combining Generation 2.5 and LICA, we have generated a drug that has the advantages of both higher affinity chemistry and efficient cell-specific targeting. This combination has allowed us to produce a drug that is substantially more potent than either Generation 2.5 or LICA alone, which should support both a very low dose and infrequent dosing.”

As AZD8233 advances in development, Ionis will be eligible to receive up to $300 million in additional development and regulatory milestone payments as well as tiered, low double-digit royalties from sales of the drug.  AstraZeneca will be responsible for further developing and commercializing AZD8233. (Original Source)

Shares of Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc. are currently rising 0.57% to $49.45, or up $0.28 in after-market trading Monday.

opened today at $49.2, down $-0.11 or 0.22%. 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 $41.85 and its 200-day moving average is $32.43.

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 8.7% and a loss of -5.7% respectively. Matteis has a success rate of 54% and is ranked #533 out of 4283 analysts, while Schimmer has a success rate of 40% and is ranked #4142.

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.