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Ipsen dives into $1.8B Skyhawk pact to fire up RNA modulator R&D

Ipsen has swooped on a $1.8 billion R&D opportunity, joining with Skyhawk Therapeutics for the chance to option two candidates that could benefit from its “neuroscience expertise in movement disorders.”

Skyhawk is, based on financing, deals and pipeline progress, at the forefront of efforts to expand the universe of druggable proteins by using small molecules to target RNA. Faced with undruggable targets, Skyhawk and peers such as Arrakis Therapeutics and Remix Therapeutics are betting they can alter levels of disease-driving proteins by hitting RNA upstream. Skyhawk has landed deals with Genentech, Merck & Co., Vertex and a who’s who of other leading drug developers on the strength of its platform.

Ipsen is the latest addition to Skyhawk’s star-studded list of R&D partners. The French drugmaker, which ended last year with 1.9 billion euros ($2 billion) in financial firepower for external innovation, is paying an upfront fee of undisclosed size for an option to pick up the global rights to two candidates. All told, the deal is worth up to $1.8 billion in upfront and milestone fees, plus potential tiered royalties.

Skyhawk will handle the projects up to the nomination of development candidates, at which point Ipsen will take over. Public details of what Ipsen will have the chance to develop are limited. Ipsen said it will use its “neuroscience expertise in movement disorders” to develop and commercialize the molecules. The statement also refers to rare neurological diseases. Everything else remains a secret.


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