AbbVie, Voyager Therapeutics form partnership to develop one-time treatment for Alzheimer's disease

AbbVie entered an agreement to use Voyager Therapeutics' adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector technology for the development of antibody therapies directed against tau for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions, the companies reported Tuesday. Jim Sullivan, vice president of pharmaceutical discovery at AbbVie, said "Voyager's vectorised antibody platform presents an innovative approach to addressing challenges in treating neurological disorders associated with the administration of biologic therapies."

Under the deal, AbbVie will make an upfront cash payment of $69 million to Voyager, with the latter also eligible to receive up to $155 million in potential preclinical and Phase I option payments. In addition, Voyager stands to receive up to $895 million in development and regulatory milestones for each vectorised tau antibody compound and is eligible to receive tiered royalties on net sales of any resulting products.  

The companies noted that the partnership aims to develop a potential "one-time treatment" using Voyager's gene therapy platform to reduce tau pathology through the delivery of an AAV vector antibody that encodes the genetic instructions to produce anti-tau antibodies within the brain. As part of the agreement, Voyager will be responsible for preclinical research and Phase I development, while AbbVie will lead further development if it exercises its option. AbbVie will assume responsibility for commercialisation of any developed therapies for Alzheimer's disease and other tauopathies, with Voyager having an option to share financial responsibility for clinical development in exchange for higher royalty rates.

FirstWord reports in this therapy area - KOL Insight Alzheimer's Disease: Find out how KOLs expect the market to evolve, which pipeline treatments are most promising, and which clinical trials will shape treatment decisions. Learn more.

The deal follows a number of high-profile failures in the development of Alzheimer's disease, with Merck & Co. most recently ending a Phase III study of the BACE1 inhibitor verubecestat. Meanwhile, last week, shares in Biogen fell more than 9 percent after the drugmaker announced changes to late-stage studies of the experimental Alzheimer's disease drug aducanumab.

Separately, the FDA recently issued draft guidance for a number of neurological conditions, including revised recommendations for drug development in early Alzheimer's disease. For related analysis, see ViewPoints: New FDA guidance contains good news for Alzheimer's disease drug developers.

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