London, 24 October 2017 - The DDF notes that its first portfolio company, Alector, a privately owned biotechnology company and AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), a global biopharmaceutical company, today announced a global strategic collaboration to develop and commercialise medicines to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Immuno-neurology is a rapidly evolving scientific area focused on harnessing the power of the immune system to attack devastating neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. There is increasing rationale – from large-scale human genetic analyses and animal model studies – that immune deficiencies within the central nervous system play an important role in the progression of neurodegeneration. Alector has developed an innovative immuno-neurology technology platform to simultaneously address multiple pathologies associated with neurodegeneration.
DDF's investment in Alector reflects the team’s belief that there is a significant opportunity to develop dementia drugs targeting biological pathways beyond the prevailing amyloid beta hypothesis. It has an initial portfolio of 12 investments in drug discovery companies and projects targeting areas including microglial biology and inflammation, mitochondrial dynamics, trafficking and membrane biology and synaptic physiology and function.
Tetsu Maruyama Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of the DDF said: “I am delighted that Alector, the first investment made by the DDF, has achieved so much over the last two years and has built a compelling early pipeline of biotherapeutics focused on immuno-neurology for a range of different dementias. It is exciting that AbbVie, a leading research-driven pharmaceutical company has recognised Alector’s expertise and made such a significant commitment to this collaboration.”
“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 Jim Sullivan, Ph.D., vice president, pharmaceutical discovery, AbbVie. “Alector’s unique approach to engaging the immune system to combat neurodegeneration reflects our commitment to target this epidemic in new ways. We recognised the potential of Alector’s research first as an AbbVie Ventures portfolio company and are now eager to partner with them to further develop this platform into meaningful advances for patients.”
"We seek to advance the field of immuno-neurology as a new therapeutic modality for dementia and neurodegeneration. We anticipate that immuno-neurology therapies will have as much of an impact on brain disorders as immuno-oncology is having on cancer,” said Arnon Rosenthal Ph.D., chief executive officer, Alector. “We look forward to co-developing our disease-modifying drugs in true partnership with AbbVie, which is making a bold commitment to the field.”
Under the terms of the agreement, AbbVie and Alector have agreed to research a portfolio of antibody targets and AbbVie has an option to global development and commercial rights to two targets. Alector will conduct exploratory research, drug discovery and development for lead programs up to the conclusion of the proof of concept studies. Upon exercise of the option, AbbVie will lead development and commercialisation activities. Alector and AbbVie will co-fund development and commercialisation and will share global profits equally. Alector will receive a $205 million upfront payment and a potential, future equity investment of up to $20 million.