Grifols lands €100M EU loan to bankroll Alzheimer's R&D

Grifols ($GRFS) has become one of the first companies to receive cash under the €315 billion (€344 billion) Juncker Investment Offensive. The €100 million the European Investment Bank (EIB) is funneling into Grifols will support a ratcheting up of R&D into the use of plasma proteins to treat Alzheimer's and other diseases.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

Barcelona, Spain-based Grifols has spent more than a decade researching Alzheimer's, culminating in it running a Phase IIb/III trial to assess the effects of plasma exchange and albumin-immunoglobulin infusions in patients with mild to moderate forms of the disease. Now, with a €100 million EIB loan landing in its bank account, the blood specialist is set to accelerate its search for new indications for plasma proteins. Alzheimer's, vascular diseases, cardiovascular surgery and arterial thrombosis are on the company's hit list.

The EIB and Grifols have agreed to 10-year, fixed-interest-rate terms for the loan, which starts with a two-year grace period. The EIB's willingness to make the cash available for the inherently speculative task of Alzheimer's R&D is evidence of the broad remit it has to dole out the €315 billion kitty. When Jean-Claude Juncker first pitched the investment offensive in his early days as European Commission president, it was presented as a way to kick-start growth in the economy of the region. Infrastructure investments and the provision of risk finance for small business are the main targets for the cash.

Having secured itself a slice of the money, Grifols is positioned to place more bets on the ability of plasma proteins to affect diseases and in doing so expand beyond its core indications. The thesis in Alzheimer's is that the condition can be stabilized by removing beta amyloid and other substances potentially linked to the disease from the body. Grifols is due to perform an interim analysis of its 364-person clinical trial to confirm the safety and treatment feasibility of its approach by the end of the year.

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