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Axerion Therapeutics Inc., AstraZeneca PLC (AZN) Inks Pact to Combat Alzheimer's Disease


5/2/2012 7:37:29 AM

NEW HAVEN, CT, USA I May 1, 2012 I Axerion Therapeutics, Inc., a private Connecticut-based biotechnology company, and MedImmune the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca, announced today that they have entered into a research collaboration and sublicense arrangement to develop and commercialize a biologic approach for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

The agreement with Axerion is the first collaboration signed within the new Neuroscience Innovative Medicines Unit that AstraZeneca announced in February 2012. Under this model, AstraZeneca and MedImmune will conduct neuroscience discovery research and early development for small and large molecules by tapping into the best available external science and sharing cost, risk and reward with other research partners active in psychiatry, neurology and pain research.

Under the terms of the agreement, Axerion has granted the AstraZeneca Neuroscience Innovative Medicines Unit an exclusive sublicense* to research, develop and commercialize a pre-clinical biologic that targets the binding of A-beta oligimers to prion proteins.

In exchange, the AstraZeneca Neuroscience Innovative Medicines Unit will provide Axerion with certain upfront and milestone payments plus research and development (R&D) funding during the time both companies are working together on the program. Additionally, Axerion will earn royalties on product sales. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Sylvia McBrinn, CEO of Axerion, commented:

"We are confident that this collaboration will accelerate the development of an urgently needed therapy for Alzheimer's disease and we are immensely proud that AstraZeneca and MedImmune have chosen us as a partner. It is our hope that this collaboration will advance a novel therapy that works quite differently from the Alzheimer's drug candidates currently in development."

Mike Poole, Head of the AstraZeneca Neuroscience Innovative Medicines Unit, said:

"A close collaboration with Axerion in this area of breaking science will greatly enhance our chances of bringing a medicine to market for people with Alzheimer's disease. This biologic approach is an example of the promising science that fuels our commitment to neuroscience research."

The two companies will collaborate to develop a biologic approach that blocks the toxic effects of amyloid-beta (A-beta) mediated through binding of A-beta oligomers to cellular prion protein in the brain. This drug development effort will build on published preclinical results which demonstrate that cellular prion protein mediates A-beta oligomer induced memory dysfunction and synaptic toxicity, and that inhibition of this interaction can have favorable therapeutic effects in models of AD. Directly targeting toxic A-beta oligomer binding has the potential to provide superior safety and efficacy versus agents that affect amyloid processing or clearance.

*The license is based on research conducted by Stephen Strittmatter, MD, PhD and the associated intellectual property is exclusively licensed to Axerion from Yale University.

About Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living. In most people with Alzheimer's, symptoms first appear after age 60, and Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia among older people. The National Institutions of Health National Institute on Aging suggests that as many as 5.1 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease.

About Axerion Therapeutics, Inc.

Axerion Therapeutics Inc. is a private Connecticut-based biotechnology company focused on developing innovative therapeutics for neurological diseases and injuries with significant unmet medical need, including Alzheimer's disease and chronic spinal cord injury. Axerion, co-founded by Scheer and Co., was established in New Haven to develop and commercialize intellectual property invented in Dr. Stephen Strittmatter's laboratory at Yale University and exclusively licensed from Yale. Axerion's proprietary technology platforms include blockers of amyloid-beta oligomer binding to cellular prion protein (PrPC) on the cell surface of neurons as a novel therapeutic target for Alzheimer's disease and Nogo decoy receptor protein for recovery of neurological function in spinal cord injury and other neurological diseases. For more information on Axerion, please visit www.axeriontherapeutics.com.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines for gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology and infectious disease. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information please visit: www.astrazeneca.com.

About MedImmune

MedImmune, the global biologics arm for AstraZeneca PLC, has approximately 3,500 employees worldwide and is headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland. For more information, visit MedImmune's website at http://www.medimmune.com

SOURCE: Axerion Therapeutics


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