Despite 15 years of hurt for biopharma R&D in Alzheimer’s, AbbVie and Alector are still throwing in together to work on the disease.
The pact between former Fierce 15 winner Alector and AbbVie is slated to use the former’s immuno-neurology discovery platform alongside AbbVie’s know-how to create new therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.
The pair are no strangers. Alector is a portfolio company of AbbVie Ventures and was founded back in 2013 with the backing of some major names, including OrbiMed, Polaris, Google Ventures, Topspin Partners, Mission Bay Capital as well as Merck, Amgen and the Dementia Discovery Fund.
Now digging deeper in with the company, Alector gets $205 million upfront, while AbbVie says it will co-fund development with the biotech, as well as share "global profits equally,” should any medication gain approval. AbbVie holds an option for the rights to two targets from the deal and can give out a potential future equity investment of up to $20 million.
Alector is set to work up until the conclusion of the proof-of-concept studies; AbbVie will lead further development and sales work.
Much like the next-gen work going on in cancer, AbbVie hopes that harnessing the power of the immune system can help attach devastating neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s.
The two said in a statement that immune deficiencies within the central nervous system “play an important role in the progression of neurodegeneration.”
Alector has an immuno-neurology tech platform designed to simultaneously address multiple pathologies associated with neurodegeneration—and this is what AbbVie wants to tap.
“Alzheimer’s is among the most difficult-to-treat diseases and there is an urgent need for new scientific approaches that lead to better therapies for patients,” said Jim Sullivan, Ph.D., vice president of pharmaceuticals discovery at AbbVie. “Alector’s unique approach to engaging the immune system to combat neurodegeneration reflects our commitment to target this epidemic in new ways. We recognized the potential of Alector’s research first as an AbbVie Ventures portfolio company and are now eager to partner with them to further develop this platform into meaningful advances for patients.”
“We seek to advance the field of immuno-neurology as a new therapeutic modality for dementia and neurodegeneration,” added Arnon Rosenthal, Ph.D., CEO of Alector and an ex-Genentech executive. “We anticipate that immuno-neurology therapies will have as much of an impact on brain disorders as immuno-oncology is having on cancer.”