AbbVie, on a Mission, picks Alzheimer's, Parkinson's targets, as partner nabs $20M

AbbVie has advanced a collaboration with Mission Therapeutics after getting a look at data from preclinical models of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, teeing up a $20 million milestone payment.

The $20 million is part of an undisclosed set of milestones AbbVie committed to pay Mission through the partnership in 2018. AbbVie entered into the collaboration to access Mission’s expertise in deubiquitylating enzymes (DUBs). The enzymes are involved in the regulation of the degradation of proteins, including the amyloid-beta and alpha-synuclein molecules that are implicated in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

AbbVie nominated a panel of DUBs for further characterization and screening in 2019. Now, having seen data from in vitro and in vivo Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s models, AbbVie has picked two DUB targets to take into the next stage of drug discovery. 

The DUB targets are part of a multifront attack on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s underway at AbbVie. The company’s clinical-phase pipeline features five drug candidates in development in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. AbbVie plans to add an amyloid-beta-directed monoclonal antibody to the clinical pipeline around the end of the year, noting that the wake of the Aduhelm accelerated approval is “a good time” to take the asset into humans.

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AbbVie is yet to share details of the DUB targets that will advance through the Mission partnership. Researchers have linked DUBs including USP8 to the regulation of the degradation of proteins involved in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, spurring work at multiple groups around the world. Separate from its work with AbbVie, Mission is developing a USP30 inhibitor in familial Parkinson’s. 

Global interest in USP30 intensified in 2014 when Genentech researchers published a paper linking the enzyme to the process through which mitochondria are degraded. With mitochondria containing so many reactive oxygen radicals, anything that impairs the degradation process risks damaging the cell.