Alector brings an immuno-neurology discovery platform to the partnership. AbbVie brings its expertise in research, development, and commercialization of therapies targeting Alzheimer’s.
It has become increasingly clear that the immune system plays a key role in the development of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders. Scientists once believed that immune cells that reside in the brain, known as microglia, were bystanders in the disease. Now they recognize them as important contributors to it.
Genetic analysis and animal studies have demonstrated that defective microglia activity increases brain cell degeneration. Alector has developed an immuno-neurology technology platform that targets genes affecting microglia function, which can trigger nerve cell degeneration.
“We seek to advance the field of immuno-neurology as a new therapeutic modality for dementia and neurodegeneration,” Dr. Arnon Rosenthal, Alector’s chief executive officer, said in a press release. “We anticipate that immuno-neurology therapies will have as much of an impact on brain disorders as immuno-oncology is having on cancer.
“We look forward to co-developing our disease-modifying drugs in true partnership with AbbVie, which is making a bold commitment to the field,” he added.
Under the partnership agreement, Alector will be responsible for all exploratory, drug discovery, and treatment development research needed to move therapies to proof-of-concept studies. AbbVie has the option of conducting global development studies on two potential treatments and commercializing them.
The two companies will share the cost of developing and commercializing products, and split any profits that come from them.
“Alzheimer’s is among the most difficult-to-treat diseases, and there is an urgent need for new scientific approaches that lead to better therapies for patients,” said Dr. Jim Sullivan, vice president of pharmaceutical discovery at AbbVie. “Alector’s unique approach to engaging the immune system to combat neurodegeneration reflects our commitment to target this epidemic in new ways.”