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AstraZeneca partners with Isis Pharma to develop cancer therapies

(Reuters) - Isis Pharmaceuticals Inc struck a deal with British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc to develop its novel technology against five cancer targets.

In exchange for $31 million in upfront and near-term payments to Isis, AstraZeneca will co-develop four oncology research programs and get the rights to develop and commercialize a drug that is in early trials for patients with advanced lymphomas.

Isis's antisense therapies work by destroying the RNA that creates proteins involved in disease processes.

"Isis' antisense technology platform allows AstraZeneca to broaden our oncology research efforts beyond traditional drug discovery methods, while at the same time becoming more specific about how we target cancer," said Susan Galbraith, head of the AstraZeneca Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit.

Isis is also eligible to receive further payments on clinical and approval milestones, license fees for research program targets and royalties on sales.

Shares of Isis rose about 2 percent before the bell. They closed at $9.42 on Monday on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Prateek Kumar; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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