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Biogen Idec in MS biomarker deal with Regulus

NEW YORK (AP) -- Biogen Idec Inc. said Wednesday that it will work with Regulus Therapeutics Inc. to identify microRNAs biomarkers in patients with multiple sclerosis.

Biogen makes and sells several multiple sclerosis drugs including Avonex and Tysabri, and it is also developing BG-12, a pill that is seen as a promising treatment for the condition. The companies said Regulus believes the biomarkers may help identify the best patients for clinical trials of multiple sclerosis drugs, could be used to develop diagnostic tests and may help monitor the progression of the illness or relapses.

MicroRNAs are small RNA molecules. RNA helps synthesize proteins in the body, and microRNA helps regulate the way genes work.

Biogen will buy a stake in Regulus and will make upfront and potential milestone payments to the company. It did not disclose the size of the stake it is buying or the terms of any payments.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease in which the immune system attacks healthy nerves. It can cause pain, numbness, slurred speech, impaired vision, muscle weakness, and neurological problems.

Shares of Biogen Idec rose $1.37 to close at $146.87.