Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) and Avidity Biosciences have entered into a global licensing and research collaboration, worth up to $2.3bn, to discover, develop, and market multiple cardiovascular targets.

Under the terms of the agreement, BMS will make an upfront payment of $100m, comprising $60m cash and purchase Avidity shares worth $40m, at a price of $7.88 per share.

Also, Avidity is eligible to receive up to $1.35bn in research and development milestone payments, around $825m in commercial milestone payments, and tiered royalties on net sales.

BMS is responsible for funding all future clinical development, regulatory and commercialisation activities under the collaboration.

BMS senior vice president and immunology and cardiovascular thematic research centre head Francisco Ramírez-Valle said: “This collaboration with Avidity represents an important part of our continued investment in innovative therapeutic approaches that have the potential to provide transformative outcomes to patients living with serious cardiovascular conditions.

“Aligned with our focus on causal human biology and efforts to successfully match therapeutic modalities to disease mechanism, our R&D organisation will continue to leverage technologies like Avidity’s AOC platform to identify meaningful targets and develop new medicines for patients in need.”

Avidity is a biopharmaceutical company engaged in developing a new class of RNA therapeutics, dubbed antibody oligonucleotide conjugates (AOCs).

AOCs feature the specificity of monoclonal antibodies and the precision of oligonucleotide therapies to target the underlying cause of diseases, previously untreatable with RNA therapeutics.

The company is currently advancing three distinct rare disease Phase 1/2 programmes, AOC 1001, AOC 1020, and AOC 1044.

AOC 1001 is intended for type-1 myotonic dystrophy, AOC 1020 for facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy and AOC 1044 for Duchenne muscular dystrophy mutations amenable to exon 44 skipping (DMD44).

In 2021, Avidity entered into a research collaboration with MyoKardia, a fully owned subsidiary of BMS, to determine the potential utility of AOCs in cardiac tissue.

Avidity said that the collaboration expands its existing relationship with BMS, joint research conducted in cardiovascular disease, and widens the reach of its AOCs.

Avidity president and CEO Sarah Boyce said: “We are excited to expand our collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb, who are world leaders in cardiovascular drug discovery and development.

“This strategic collaboration solidifies our commitment to cardiology as we continue to advance our own research and development programmes in cardiac indications.

“We look forward to broadening the utility of the AOC platform to address debilitating diseases previously unreachable with existing RNA therapies.”