Johnson & Johnson Strikes $509 Million Alzheimer's Deal With AC Immune SA

Johnson & Johnson Strikes $509 Million Alzheimer's Deal With AC Immune SA
January 12, 2015
By Jessica Wilson, Breaking News Staff

A division of Johnson & Johnson , Janssen Pharmaceuticals, has struck a deal with Swiss biotech firm AC Immune to co-develop the latter’s experimental Alzheimer vaccine, ACI-35. AC Immune announced the deal, which could yield up to $509 million, today.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals will pay AC Immune an upfront fee after which AC Immune will be eligible to receive further payments based on the achievement of research, development and commercial milestones. In addition, AC Immune could earn royalties on sales for products that result from the collaboration. The two companies will both fund the development of ACI-35 through Phase Ib trials, after which Janssen will fund the further clinical development, manufacturing and commercialization of the vaccine. The two companies have also agreed to a three-year collaboration to research vaccine therapies for other tauopathies.

Tauopathies are “age-related neurodegenerative diseases that are characterized by the presence of aggregates of abnormally phosphorylated tau,” according to an article in the Annual Review of Neuroscience. Besides being observed in Alzheimer’s patients, tau prions have also been observed in people with frontotemporal dementia, posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD) and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), according to the Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of California, San Francisco.

The latter has received a lot of press in recent years due to the fact that it occurs at a higher percentage in boxers, football players and hockey players than in the general population.

“ACI-35 is the first therapeutic vaccine in clinical development that targets misfolded phospho-Tau protein that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Andreas Muhs, chief scientific officer of AC Immune, in a statement. “It is important to note that this vaccine approach offers the potential to treat Alzheimer’s patients earlier and in broad populations and has an exciting future aptitude to treat other rarer tauopathy indications."

ACI-35 stimulates the patient’s immune system to produce antibodies against phosphorylated tau protein, which causes the twisted fibers and tangles considered a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Current treatments for the disease only alleviate some symptoms, but no treatment exists that can slow the disease’s progression.

“We are very pleased to begin this exciting strategic partnership with Janssen in a groundbreaking deal involving the first anti-pTau therapeutic vaccine,” Andrea Pfeifer, chief executive officer of AC Immune said in a statement. “This is our third major collaboration with pharmaceutical partners involving the Tau protein and underscores the strength of our technology platforms for targeting proteinopathies and our success in bringing to the clinic Tau and Abeta therapies and diagnostics."

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