Santaris Pharma will no doubt be celebrating Shire's decision to extend their partnership for discovering drug targets for rare genetic diseases.

Back in 2009 the groups signed a deal allowing Shire to use the Danish Biopharma's proprietary Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) Drug Platform to help discover new targets for development.

Now, the extended agreement allows Shire to nominate extra collaboration targets for discovery and development, potentially allowing the firm to move into a wider range of genetic diseases.

In return, Santaris will receive an (undisclosed) upfront payment and, consistent with terms of the original pact, stands to receive research support, preclinical, clinical and sales milestones and royalties on each product emerging from the collaboration.

Explaining the rationale behind the move, Albert Seymour, VP, Discovery Research, at Shire, said Santaris' expertise and capabilities in LNA antisense therapy complement the firm's own drug discovery and development strengths, and that it is hoped that the partnership "will eventually translate into novel drugs that will help patients suffering from debilitating rare diseases lead better lives."