Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:IONS) announced the advancement of IONIS-FXIRx  in clinical development under an existing exclusive license agreement with Bayer. Under this agreement, Ionis will also initiate development of IONIS-FXI-LRx, which uses Ionis’ proprietary LIgand Conjugated Antisense, or LICA, technology.  In conjunction with the decision to advance these programs, Ionis will receive a $75 million payment from Bayer.

“We look forward to continuing the development of IONIS-FXIRx with Bayer. IONIS-FXIRx was the first antithrombotic in development to demonstrate the potential to separate antithrombotic activity from bleeding risk.  We recently completed a Phase 2 study in patients with end-stage renal disease on hemodialysis, in which IONIS-FXIRxdemonstrated robust reductions in FXI activity and no treatment-related major bleeding,” said B. Lynne Parshall, chief operating officer at Ionis Pharmaceuticals.  “We are pleased that Bayer has decided to expand our collaboration and initiate development of a LICA antisense drug targeting Factor XI.  Our LICA technology enables flexible, low and infrequent doses and dose regimens, which may be preferred for a drug targeting broad indications.”

Under the agreement, Ionis plans to conduct a Phase 2b study evaluating IONIS-FXIRx in approximately 200 patients with end-stage renal disease on hemodialysis to finalize dose selection.  Additionally, Ionis plans to rapidly develop IONIS-FXI-LRx through Phase 1.  Following these Ionis-conducted studies and Bayer’s decision to further advance these programs, Bayer will be responsible for all subsequent global clinical development activities as well as worldwide regulatory and commercialization activities for both drugs.  Ionis is eligible to receive additional milestone payments as each drug advances toward the market. Ionis is also eligible to receive tiered royalties in the low to high twenty percent range on gross margins of both drugs combined.

Shares of Ionis closed yesterday at $46.09, up $0.67 or 1.48%. IONS has a 1-year high of $57 and a 1-year low of $19.59. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $46.55 and its 200-day moving average is $38.87.

On the ratings front, IONS has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on January 23, Janney analyst Debjit Chattopadhyay maintained a Hold rating on IONS, with a price target of $42, which represents a potential downside of 9% from where the stock is currently trading. Separately, on January 17, BMO’s Do Kim reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $63.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Debjit Chattopadhyay and Do Kim have a yearly average loss of -2.3% and a return of 3.7% respectively. Chattopadhyay has a success rate of 43% and is ranked #3809 out of 4430 analysts, while Kim has a success rate of 52% and is ranked #1928.

Overall, one research analyst has rated the stock with a Sell rating, 3 research analysts have assigned a Hold rating and 4 research analysts have given a Buy rating to the stock. When considering if perhaps the stock is under or overvalued, the average price target is $32.00 which is -30.6% under where the stock closed yesterday.

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.