Abmaxis, BioArctic work takes on Alzheimer’s: The companies will work to create a therapeutic human monoclonal antibody

Abmaxis, a privately held biopharmaceutical company located here, recently signed a collaborative development agreement with Uppsala, Sweden-based BioArctic Neuro-science AB, a biotechnology company focused on the development of new treatments and diagnostics for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. The goal of the collaboration will be to jointly develop a therapeutic human monoclonal antibody for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

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SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Abmaxis, a privately held biopharmaceutical company located here, recently signed a collaborative development agreement with Uppsala, Sweden-based BioArctic Neuro-science AB, a biotechnology company focused on the development of new treatments and diagnostics for Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. The goal of the collaboration will be to jointly develop a therapeutic human monoclonal antibody for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
 
BioArctic's new antibody treatment strategy is based on discoveries made by Dr. Lars Lannfelt and his research team at Uppsala University, which discovered the Arctic mutation in familial Alzheimer's disease and identified a toxic component suspected to cause the disease. BioArctic has developed murine monoclonal antibodies targeting this component.
 
"We consider the BioArctic target to be a unique discovery that could lead to the development of a new type of immunotherapy for Alzheimer's disease," says Dr. Peter Luo, chief technology officer forAbmaxis. "We are confident of our ability to successfully develop and optimize the drug candidate."
 
Under the agreement, BioArctic will pay Abmaxis an up-front technology license fee. Abmaxis also is entitled to receive future milestone payments and royalties based on product sales once there is a commercially viable therapeutic agent.
 
Although antibody-based therapeutics are becoming more prevalent, some researchers have shied away from pursuing them for neurological diseases because of perceived challenges of getting the antibodies across the blood-brain barrier. But Dr. Pär Gellerfors, president and chief executive officer for BioArctic, says this perception is no longer accurate.
 
"It's well know that classically, drugs have problems of bad penetration over the blood-brain barrier," Gellerfors admits, "but this is not a problem in immunotherapy for Alzheimer's disease. There is a well-documented natural passage for antibodies over the blood-brain barrier."
 
Currently, the companies are involved in animal studies and working on the optimization of the antibodies, Gellerfors says.
 
"A point of interest in our work is that we have developed a new transgenic mouse model which has two human mutations called the Arctic and Swedish mutations," he adds. "These give rise to early forms of Alzheimer's disease, and these mice have two unique features that are important for us. First, they have a rapid disease process, forming amyloid plaques at 6 months of age; this is important to reduce development time in testing the drugs. The other feature is that they show intracellular amyloids, which is the earliest sign of the disease reported, so it provides the opportunity to study the effects of drugs early in the disease process."


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