Evotec hits an R&D milestone with J&J in an ambitious Alzheimer's collaboration

Risk-sharing researcher Evotec said it's advancing an early-stage Alzheimer's disease project alongside partner Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), working to find new approaches to treating the neurodegenerative disorder.

The two paired up in 2013 in a program called TargetAD, combing Evotec's database of potentially therapeutic molecules in hopes of hitting as-yet-untried biological targets that could lead to new treatments for the memory-destroying disease.

Late last year, the two companies hit an "important" milestone in their collaboration, according to Evotec, which isn't disclosing details. The event triggers an untold payout for the German company, and, more importantly, clears the way for Evotec and J&J to move forward in hopes of discovering one or more drug candidates.

The partnership, handled through J&J's Janssen division, tasks the drugmaker with funding Evotec's target research in exchange for the right to in-license any potential therapies that stem from the collaboration. The initial agreement runs through this year.

"Despite the significant challenges in identifying and prosecuting novel targets in the field of Alzheimer's disease, our collaboration with Janssen continues to thrive as documented by this milestone," Evotec Chief Scientific Officer Cord Dohrmann said in a statement. "On the basis of an ever improving platform and an excellent team that is seamlessly integrated across both companies, we are confident that further progress will follow in 2016."

- read the statement