AC Immune received a first milestone payment from Roche’s subsidiary Genentech. The latter picked up a potential Alzheimer’s drug worth developing towards clinical trials. The collaboration began in 2012 with Genentech’s promising milestone payments amounting to more than €384M (CHF400M).

Alzheimer’s disease will be one of the biggest burdens of tomorrow’s society showing a dramaticaly increasing incidence rate: 44 million people were affected by the disease worldwide in 2013. By 2050 the number is expected to triple to 135 million.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) develops because of a complex series of events that take place in the brain over a long period of time. Two proteins – Tau and beta-amyloid (Abeta) – are recognized as the major hallmarks of neurodegeneration. Tangles and other abnormal forms of Tau protein accumulate inside the brain cells, while plaques and oligomers formed by betaamyloid occur outside the brain cells of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

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The Genentech/AC Immune collaboration wants to treat them both. They first joined forces back in 2006 to co-develop anti-Abeta antibodies, and released their lead candidate Crenezumab, that has completed phase II trials. The second collaboration was concluded in 2012 and is dedicated to the development of antibodies that target Tau. Swiss AC Immune announced today that it received its first milestone payment from the partnership. The milestone marks Genentech’s selection of a lead antibody development candidate to further progress towards clinical trials.

This wasn’t the only good news concerning Alzheimer’s disease this month. AXON Neurosciences completed a Phase I with its Tau-targeting vaccine last week. Interestingly enough, this is the first anti-Tau vaccine ever conceived. Whilst Alzheimer is one of the major health concerns of our time, we are only beginning to understand this fatal disease, which means it’s still early days for a treatment.

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