Roche Ends Longstanding Collaboration with AC Immune, Hands Back Assets

Roche China_iStock, Robert Way

Pictured: Roche's tower in Shanghai, China/iStock, Robert Way

The collaboration between Roche’s Genentech and Swiss biotech AC Immune has ended, with the Swiss pharma handing back two of its assets, according to Monday’s announcement.

The global rights to AC Immune’s anti-amyloid beta antibody, crenezumab, and an anti-Tau antibody, semorinemab, will be going back to the biotech after the collaboration agreement with Roche has been terminated. Both drugs were being investigated to treat Alzheimer’s disease but were showing results that were not positive.

In 2020, the topline results for semorinemab showed that the drug did not meet its primary endpoint of decreasing the decline on the Clinical Dementia Rating-Sum of Boxes against a placebo, while not hitting two secondary endpoints. In 2022, Fierce Biotech reported that the Phase II study also showed signs of failure for crenezumab.  

For now, AC Immune will regain the rights to manufacturing the drug for clinical trials and the data churned out under the Roche collaboration. The company also said it is “carefully” reviewing and evaluating all data sets when they become available before making further decisions.

“AC Immune is highly focused on progressing its three active immunotherapies from its precision medicine pipeline,” CEO Andrea Pfeifer said in a statement. “These product candidates are being developed in ongoing, potentially registrational, Phase II clinical trials, including the recently initiated first prevention study in presymptomatic Alzheimer’s disease."

Pfeifer added that the company received a milestone payment and $50 million in financing in December 2023 and is funded into 2026, as well as expecting more data for other assets later in 2024.

“Regaining the global rights to crenezumab, semorinemab, and the intellectual property surrounding these targets may offer alternative routes to new growth opportunities, including combination therapies. We are confident that, with full ownership and the learnings from these programs, they could be enhanced using AC Immune’s proprietary next-generation technologies,” Pfeifer said. 

According to Reuters, in 2007, AC Immune and Genentech inked their deal to develop treatments for Alzheimer’s, with revenue possibly being in the $300 million plus range for the Swiss biotech. 

In 2012, a deal was signed for a second antibody to be developed to target the Tau protein in Alzheimer’s. This deal was potentially worth around $418 million at the time, plus royalty payments. 

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at tyler.patchen@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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