The depth of our knowledge and expertise with antisense technology together with our strong financial position provides us the flexibility to partner our drugs at what we believe is the optimal time to maximize the near- and long-term value of our drugs. We have distinct partnering strategies that we employ based on the specific program, therapeutic area and the expertise and resources our potential partners may bring to the collaboration. For some drugs, we may choose to develop and commercialize them through subsidiaries like our affiliate, Akcea Therapeutics. For other drugs, we may form partnerships that enable us to leverage our partner’s global expertise and resources needed to support large commercial opportunities.
We have established alliances with a cadre of leading global pharmaceutical companies that are working alongside us in developing our drugs, advancing our technology, preparing to commercialize our drugs and selling our drugs. Our partners bring substantial resources and expertise that augment and build upon our internal capabilities.
We have strategic partnerships through which we can broadly expand our drug discovery efforts to new disease targets in specific therapeutic areas, as well as partnerships with companies that bring significant expertise and global resources to develop and commercialize, if approved, drugs for a particular therapeutic area. We also form early stage research and development partnerships that allow us to expand the application of our technology to new therapeutic areas. Lastly, we also work with a consortium of companies, referred to as satellite companies, that can exploit our drugs and technologies outside our primary areas of focus.
Through our partnerships, we have created a broad and sustaining base of potential R&D revenue in the form of license fees, upfront payments and milestone payments while spending prudently to advance our pipeline and technology. From our inception through December 31, 2017, we have earned approximately $3.2 billion in revenue from contract research and development and the sale and licensing of our intellectual property. We have the potential to earn more than $20 billion in future milestone payments and licensing fees from our current partnerships. We also have the potential to share in the future commercial success of our inventions and drugs resulting from our partnerships through royalty arrangements. With the approval of SPINRAZA in late 2016 by the U.S. FDA for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), we began adding commercial revenue from SPINRAZA royalties to our existing R&D revenue base. Looking forward, we have the potential to increase our commercial revenue from SPINRAZA royalties from the continued growth we expect in the U.S., EU and other global markets. We also have the potential to further increase our commercial revenue with WAYLIVRA (volanesorsen) and TEGSEDI (inotersen).
Akcea Therapeutics, Inc.
Akcea is a biopharmaceutical company we established to focus on developing and commercializing drugs to treat patients with serious and rare diseases. Akcea is advancing a mature pipeline of six novel drugs, licensed from us, including WAYLIVRA, TEGSEDI, AKCEA-APO(a)-LRx, AKCEA-ANGPTL3-LRx, AKCEA-APOCIII-LRx and AKCEA-TTR-LRx, all with the potential to treat multiple diseases. All six drugs were discovered by and are being co-developed by Ionis, and are based on our proprietary antisense technology. Akcea is building the infrastructure to commercialize its drugs globally. Akcea is a global company headquartered in Cambridge, MA with offices in Carlsbad, CA and across the EU and Canada. Additional information about Akcea is available at www.akceatx.com.
Additional information on our various strategic alliances is available in our annual report, which is on file with the SEC.