Led By Ex-Genzyme Corporation Exec, Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.'s Newly Formed Cambridge Subsidiary to Hire 20

Published: Jan 07, 2015

Led By Ex-Genzyme Exec, Isis Pharmaceutical's Newly Formed Cambridge Subsidiary to Hire 20
January 7, 2015
By Krystle Vermes, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

California-based biotechnology company Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced on Jan. 6 that it plans to develop a Massachusetts subsidiary in Cambridge, Mass. A total of 20 people will be employed at the location by the end of the year, according to the Boston Business Journal.

A spokesperson for Isis Pharmaceuticals claimed that the company is still searching for a final location for its subsidiary in Cambridge, known as Akcea Therapeutics. The goal of the subsidiary is to develop and commercialize drugs in the lipid category, including ISIS-APOCIII, the company’s most advanced candidate. Former Genzyme Corporation Executive Paula Soteropoulos will lead Akcea Therapeutics.

"Leading Akcea Therapeutics will allow me to bring together many of my passions, developing and marketing important new medicines that could change the lives of patients worldwide, working within the severe, rare and cardiovascular space, an area that I know very well, and leading a new, ready-for-success company that has a pipeline rich in new products,” said Soteropoulos.

Akcea will be responsible for developing three antisense drugs and their potent LICA follow-on drugs. LICA is the company’s technology, designed to increase the potency of drugs that target specific areas, such as the liver.

“This new subsidiary will support greater control of our drug programs and provide for the retention of more revenues from these programs,” said Lynne Parshall, chief operating officer of Isis Pharmaceuticals. “It also ensures that Isis' core focus remains on innovation as we continue to advance our technology and our pipeline."

The Progression of ISIS-APOCIII
ISIS-APOCIII, an antisense drug, has been developed to treat patients with high triglyceride. The drug specifically targets the apoC-III, a protein created in the liver that plays a role in the regulation of serum triglycerides.

In December 2014, The New England Journal of Medicine published the results of IsisPhase 2 study of ISIS-APOCIII, applied to patients with familial chylomicronemia syndrome. The data showed that patients who received the drug achieved reductions in apoC-III, triglycerides, chylomicrons and apoC-III-associated very low density lipoprotein-cholesterol particles.

"Because of their genetic defect, patients with FCS have very limited therapeutic options and diet and lifestyle changes are not sufficient to significantly reduce their triglycerides,” said Daniel Gaudet, scientific director of the Genome Quebec Biobank Technology Center. “These data published today, although collected from a small number of patients, are compelling and demonstrate the potential of ISIS-APOCIII to produce substantial triglyceride lowering in patients with FCS.”

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