Better Cancer Treatment: Partnerships and Dividends

Josef Ray is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

The quality of life that we live is determined in part by how healthy our physical being is. All of us get sick at one time or another, for which we consult a doctor who prescribes a medicine that helps us to regain our health. But as we all know, sicknesses such as cancer and other autoimmune diseases cannot be cured by over-the-counter drugs. Drugs for these kinds of ailments undergo extensive research, trial, testing, and approval processes before they can be given to a patient. Who does the processes necessary for a drug to be ready for administration to a patient with cancer?

Team-ups for a Better Solution

On Dec. 11, 2012, news came out that Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ISIS), valued at $11.99 per share with 101.21 million shares, and Astra Zeneca (NYSE: AZN), priced at $47.84 per share with 1.25 billion shares outstanding, will form a partnership for the discovery and development of a new generation of antisense therapeutics that will target cancer in patients with advanced lymphomas. This strategic alliance will combine Isis’ technology and drug discovery expertise in developing anti-cancer agents with Astra Zeneca’s “extensive oncology expertise in the use of novel pre-clinical animal models to validate targets and develop predictive assays to identify which patients would benefit the most from these new targets,” according to B. Lynne Parshall, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer at Isis.

This means that Isis will develop the drug, known as ISIS-STAT3(Rx), which is already in their pipeline, using their advance antisense technology. Astra Zeneca will test the product to validate if it focuses on the target cancer and to develop revelatory trials to identify which patients would benefit the most. Collaborations like this take time, money, patience, and a lot of expertise, but its other underlying goal is to design a rapid path to the market so that cancer can be fought, more patients can benefit, and a return on investment can be realized.

Stocking Up on Biotechnology and Drugs

The news of this partnership to fight lymphomas and Isis’ scheduled presentation of the company overview at the 31st Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference resulted in the spiking of shares of Isis by 12% on Tuesday, Jan 8. Isis’ lead product Kynamro, a drug used to reduce cholesterol levels that's manufactured by its partner Genzyme, waits for regulatory approval for its commercialization. A similar drug named Juxtapid, made by Aegerion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AEGR), was given FDA approval, one of the 39 new treatments allowed in the market by the federal agency.

<img src="/media/images/user_14458/us-drugs-authorized_large.jpg" />

This abrupt increase which was up from 30 in 2011 and the most in 16 years is lifting drug makers’ spirits up and making investors’ mood upbeat. Harry Glorikian, managing partner at Scientia Advisors, a life sciences consulting firm said, “It’s a very, very exciting time. I don’t see any reason why it’s going to slow down.” He has reason to say this, because the FDA’s roster for 2013 could be just as full, according to industry executives and insiders.


If those who have gone before us could see the advances that have been made in medicine and pharmaceuticals, they would be only too glad. The flood of new generation medicines means saving and extending the lives of patients. This success is attributable to partnerships between large drug makers, smaller biotechs, academic researchers who never seem to tire of moving the work ahead, and companies that have become more knowledgeable about how to move drugs from the laboratory to the marketplace.

And to the investors who take a chance on these companies who had to cope with a sluggish economy and federal cuts in medical research funding, the window of opportunity is open for cashing in after years of research and many millions of dollars in spending. 

JosefRayDagatan has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

blog comments powered by Disqus