Published on: May 3, 2012
by PM Live
AstraZeneca (AZ) has continued efforts to strengthen its pipeline by entering a partnership with US-based Axerion Therapeutics aimed at developing a biologic approach to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Under the terms of the deal, AZ subsidiary Medimmune has sublicensed rights to a preclinical-stage biologic, originally developed in the lab of Dr Stephen Strittmatter at Yale University. This compound is developed to block the binding of amyloid-beta oligomers to prion proteins (PrP) on the cell surface of neurons.
Amyloid plaques are a well-known characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease, and therapies which try to disrupt their formation or break them down have been developed by a number of pharma companies, notably Elan/Pfizer/Johnson & Johnson’s bapineuzumab which is in phase III testing.
Axerion’s approach is somewhat different, and relies on trying to inhibit the neurotoxic effects of soluble amyloid-beta oligomers, which eventually coalesce to form the insoluble plaques.
By preventing them from binding to PrP – which is thought to be the main receptor for these oligomers on neurons – the hope is that their toxic effects in the brain can be prevented.
In preclinical studies, removing PrP by genetic deletion or blocking its interaction with amyloid-beta oligomers with inhibitors has been shown to prevent cellular toxicity in vitro and to normalise cognitive function in transgenic mice engineered with human Alzheimer’s genes.
“Directly targeting toxic amyloid-beta oligomer binding has the potential to provide superior safety and efficacy versus agents that affect amyloid processing or clearance,” said the two firms in a statement.
The licensing deal is the first for AZ’s recently-formed Neuroscience Innovative Medicines (iMED) Unit, which was set up in February to conduct discovery research and early development on promising small and large molecule drugs and to seek out risk-sharing partnerships with external research teams.
“This biologic approach is an example of the promising science that fuels our commitment to neuroscience research,” said Neuroscience iMED head Mike Poole.
Older people who report greater levels of social engagement have more robust gray matter in regions of the brain relevant in dementia, according to new research led by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of...
In a new study, University of Nebraska–Lincoln sociologist Marc A. Garcia explored how educational attainment can benefit cognitive health in later life, and whether there are differences in its benefits among minorities. Garcia and his co-authors...
A genetic variation in some people may be associated with cognitive decline that can’t be explained by deposits of two key proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease, amyloid β and tau, according to a study...
The material presented through the Think Tank feature on this website is in no way intended to replace professional medical care or attention by a qualified practitioner. WBHI strongly advises all questioners and viewers using this feature with health problems to consult a qualified physician, especially before starting any treatment. The materials provided on this website cannot and should not be used as a basis for diagnosis or choice of treatment. The materials are not exhaustive and cannot always respect all the most recent research in all areas of medicine.