AbbVie partners with Karolinska immunotherapy startup in Parkinson’s

AbbVie HQ

Swedish startup BioArctic has added AbbVie ($ABBV) to a partnership roster that already includes another major biopharma, Eisai. The new deal is slated to develop and commercialize the startup’s antibody portfolio against the protein alpha-synuclein to treat Parkinson’s disease and other potential indications.

BioArctic is a portfolio company of the well-regarded, research institute-based investment firm Karolinska Development AB ($KDEV), which has founded at least 10 startups. Founded in 2003, BioArctic is devoted to developing immunotherapy approaches to neurodegenerative diseases.

“AbbVie has shown a strong commitment to Parkinson’s disease and I am proud that they have chosen to collaborate with BioArctic,” said BioArctic CEO Gunilla Osswald in a statement. “I am looking forward to a successful partnership that hopefully will result in a new innovative disease modifying treatment becoming available to the large number of patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.”

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AbbVie got FDA approval last year for its Parkinson’s treatment Duopa, an extended-release combination of two standard Parkinson's disease treatments. It’s also in Phase III testing of Duopa NexGen, which is designed to be used with a smaller, lighter infusion pump than the earlier iteration.

For its part, BioArctic also recently built on a decade-long collaboration with Eisai in Alzheimer’s disease with a new agreement last year. The new deal is aimed at clinical development of the product of that earlier research, BAN2401, which it said is the first clinical-stage monoclonal antibody that selectively binds and eliminates protofibrils of beta-amyloid.

Eisai had already partnered with Biogen ($BIIB) to develop BAN2401 in 2014. For Biogen, the Phase II BAN2401 is at least its 3rd effort in AD, alongside the Phase III, high-profile aducanumab and Phase II BACE1 inhibitor E2609, which was also part of the Eisai deal.

BAN2401 intended to halt Alzheimer’s disease progression and cognitive decline. It’s already in a clinical trial of up to 800 early Alzheimer’s patients that’s intended to evaluate the candidate’s effect on cognition, as well as biomarkers for disease progression.