Lundbeck Obtains Rights to Research that Targets Immune Checkpoint Pathways in Alzheimer’s

Iqra Mumal, MSc avatar

by Iqra Mumal, MSc |

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Lundbeck, a global pharmaceutical company specializing in therapies for neurological disorders, has obtained the rights to IBC’s (ImmunoBrain Checkpoint) groundbreaking research into treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

“IBC has a unique and innovative approach to this highly complex disease and the data generated until now are highly promising,” Jacob Tolstrup, executive vice president for corporate functions at Lundbeck, said in a press release. “We are delighted to take part in this exciting work as part of our strategy of in-licensing research projects to supplement our own research activities.”

In particular, IBC’s lead program, which is being developed specifically for Alzheimer’s disease, blocks the PD-1/PD-L1 immune checkpoint pathway. Drugs targeting this pathway already are used in cancer treatment, and their use could be extended to the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Immune checkpoint pathways are involved in regulating the immune system balance. Studies have found blocking the PD-1 pathway has anti-tumor activity as it mobilizes the immune system to fight cancer cells by activating the IFN-γ (interferon gamma; a critical cytokine for immune responses) dependent pathway.

Interestingly, activation of the IFN-γ pathway also was found to lead to the repair of the central nervous system as it stimulated leukocytes to enter into the brain.

A study titled “PD-1 immune checkpoint blockade reduces pathology and improves memory in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease,” published by Michal Schwartz in Nature Medicine, demonstrates that neutralizing PD-1 in T-cells through the use of antibodies leads to increased levels of macrophages in the brain, which in turn clear amyloid-beta plaques from the brain in mice with Alzheimer’s.

Therefore, IBC has focused on developing a pipeline of modifying antibodies that function by targeting immune checkpoint pathways. This research is based on years of work conducted by Schwartz, a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

As part of the agreement, Lundbeck will provide the funding for, as well as take part in, additional research that will allow the identification of potential therapies for clinical trials.

Lundbeck also obtains minority ownership of IBC and has the exclusive option to take over the rights and activities relating to this technology at a later date.