Billionaire-backed AC Immune pushes venture raise for Alzheimer’s R&D past $120M

Brain imaging

Genentech-partnered AC Immune has added $43.5 million in venture cash to its reserves, bringing the total venture cash reported so far for its work on Alzheimer’s treatments to $121.5 million.

There’s no immediate word about where the cash is coming from for the Swiss biotech, but German billionaire Dietmar Hopp has provided the bulk of the cash for AC Immune through the last round. The biotech was buoyed last summer when its close partner Genentech opted to take their partnered drug crenezumab into Phase III studies for Alzheimer’s. The Phase III move came after mixed results in the Phase II study, but Biogen’s early progress with an amyloid beta strategy has emboldened all the players in that field.

Lausanne-based AC Immune also has two vaccines in clinical development for Alzheimer’s, one targeting amyloid beta and the other aimed at tau--two key culprits believed to play a role in the development of toxic clusters in the brain.

AC Immune CEO Andrea Pfeifer isn’t discussing the latest raise for her company today, but there’s likely to be some buzz about the Series E. After Genentech opted to move forward on the Phase III last year, Pfeifer told Reuters: “We will certainly look at Nasdaq as much as the European markets and choose which is best for our company, when we reach the stage of any decision.” 

Pfeifer is a careful CEO not given to hype, and she certainly wasn’t touting an imminent IPO with that remark. Over the last 6 months, though, Nasdaq and particularly the European exchanges have been buffeted by a tempestuous storm for biotech stocks, making a new private venture round more likely than a public move.

- here's the release