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Aro Biotherapeutics and Ionis Enter Licensing and Collaboration Agreement Focused on Cell-Specific Delivery of Antisense Oligonucleotides


Ionis to leverage Aro’s CENTYRIN technology to develop a new class of innovative medicines designed to selectively target antisense oligonucleotides to the source of disease


Aro eligible to receive payments and milestones up to $1.4B plus royalties

Philadelphia, PA, January 9, 2020 – Aro Biotherapeutics Company announces it has entered a licensing and collaboration agreement with Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the leader in RNA-targeted therapeutics, through which Ionis will use Aro’s CENTYRIN™ technology to develop targeted cell- and tissue- specific delivery of antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs). Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will collaborate to create unique ASO-Centyrin conjugates that are designed to achieve tissue specific, therapeutically effective gene knockdown in extra-hepatic tissues with systemic administration. 


“This important collaboration combines Aro’s strengths in protein engineering with Ionis’ leading expertise in the science of antisense technology,” said Aro Biotherapeutics Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Karyn O’Neil, Ph.D. “Centyrins are small, non-antibody protein scaffolds with unique stability and biochemical properties that enable effective delivery of a diverse set of conjugated drug payloads, including oligonucleotides. Ionis will leverage this unique technology to develop novel ASO-Centyrin combination drug candidates targeting a variety of diseases with high unmet medical need.”


Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies have agreed to jointly work towards advancing a defined number of ASO-Centyrin drug conjugates. Aro will be responsible for Centyrin discovery and will collaborate with Ionis to create lead ASO-Centyrin drug conjugates for further development. Ionis will be responsible for development and will have global commercialization rights for each ASO-Centyrin drug conjugate. The parties will also collaborate on additional discovery programs. Aro will receive an upfront cash payment, funding to support R&D efforts, and payments associated with the achievement of specific development and commercial milestones, up to $1.4B. In addition, Aro will receive royalties on net sales. 


“We are excited to partner with Ionis, the premier company in antisense drug discovery and development. The collaboration sets the path for creating a new class of innovative medicines with the potential to selectively target ASOs to tissues where the disease occurs, thereby creating more potent drugs,” stated Sue Dillon, Ph.D., co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Aro Biotherapeutics.


“Through Ionis’ dedication to innovation and to further advancing our antisense technology, we have produced a broad pipeline of potentially transformational medicines for patients,” noted C. Frank Bennett, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Ionis Pharmaceuticals. “We have now entered this licensing and collaboration agreement with Aro to enable our scientists to expand our technology to an even broader array of disease areas – with a goal of providing new treatment options to patients in need.”

Building a Pipeline of Life Changing Therapies

Centyrins are small, structurally simple, ultra-stable, highly soluble proteins. These characteristics enable the discovery of medicines with new mechanisms of action for cancer and other devastating diseases. This first-of-its-kind combination of properties is designed to address unmet medical needs by targeting drug payloads in high concentration to the site of disease, while lowering the toxicity to non-target organs. The company holds an exclusive worldwide license for research, development, manufacturing and commercialization of Centyrin protein therapeutics.

About Aro Biotherapeutics

Aro is a biotechnology company focused on the research and development of a new generation of protein biologics called Centyrins. The company is developing a wholly-owned pipeline of Centyrins for oncology and immunology, and is working with leaders in the industry on leveraging Centyrins for tissue specific targeting of therapeutics, including nucleic acid drugs for a diverse set of diseases. For more information, visit


CENTYRIN™ is a trademark of Johnson & Johnson


Media Contact

Mike Beyer

Sam Brown Inc.


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