(Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline Plc and U.S. firm Alector Inc will together develop antibody-based treatments for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other similar diseases in a deal worth up to $2.2 billion, the drugmakers said on Friday.
The tie-up comes weeks after U.S. authorities approved the first new Alzheimer’s drug in almost two decades, Biogen Inc’s Aduhelm, reinvigorating the industry’s efforts to develop more treatments in a challenging therapy category.
The collaboration also aligns with London-listed GSK’s efforts to build a robust pipeline of drugs, as it prepares to spin off its large consumer healthcare division as a separate company.
Alector will receive $700 million upfront from GSK and could receive up to $1.5 billion more payments tied to drug development-related milestones and royalties.
GSK and Alector will develop two of the U.S. company’s experimental treatments that target a protein called progranulin, to fight off neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which affect the nervous system and can cause problems with regular mental and physical functioning.
“Working with Alector’s world class scientists will allow us to investigate the potential of these immuno-neurology therapies,” said Hal Barron, chief scientific officer and president of R&D at GSK.
Progranulin is found on the GRN gene and is a key regulator of immune activity in the brain. Studies have found that mutations in this gene are tied to several neurodegenerative disorders, making progranulin a target for new treatments.
Besides Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, Alector and GSK’s drug candidates are part of trials for diseases such as frontotemporal dementia, a rare type of dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS, another rare disorder that weakens muscles and impairs physical function.
The candidates belong to a class of medicines called monoclonal antibodies used in immunotherapy, where the body’s own defences are used to fight infections and other diseases, including cancer.
(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)