AC Immune Develops Antibodies That Target Two Proteins in Parkinson’s Disease

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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Two Parkinson's antibodies

AC Immune has developed antibodies against two proteins that are key players in the neurodegeneration underlying Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases.

The Swiss biopharmaceutical company used its proprietary SupraAntigen platform to create the next-generation antibodies, which target abnormal versions of the alpha-synuclein and TDP-43 proteins.

AC Immune has already used the platform to produce other antibodies. It is testing one that it developed for Alzheimer’s, an anti-amyloid-beta antibody it calls crenezumab, in a second Phase 3 clinical trial.

The alpha-synuclein protein is mainly expressed in the central nervous system. Aggregates of this protein are a hallmark of Parkinson’s and other Lewy body diseases.

Scientists recently identified TDP-43, which is short for TAR DNA binding protein 43, as a target for neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD-TDP), and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Development of the new antibodies will complement AC Immune’s partnership with Biogen, announced in early 2016. The collaboration was set to develop PET imaging agents that bind to alpha-synuclein and TDP-43 as tools for diagnosing and managing Parkinson’s. AC Immune’s proprietary Morphomer platform will be used to develop the agents.

“We are very pleased to move these next-generation antibodies into our discovery pipeline. They have significant potential for addressing the underlying pathology of a range of unmet indications, and reinforce our belief that precision medicine is critical to delivering effective treatments in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases,” Professor Andrea Pfeifer, CEO of AC Immune, said in a press release. “We are executing a clear strategy around three pillars: Alzheimer’s disease, other significant neurodegenerative diseases and neuro-orphan indications, and diagnostics. Our unique combination of scientific knowledge and assets continues to expand our high-value pipeline of candidates for both in-house development and partnerships.”

“Many neurodegenerative diseases share their mode of action and targets, which provides opportunities for synergistic development of product candidates,” said Andreas Muhs, chief scientific officer of AC Immune. “Our common scientific approach to proteinopathies, complemented with proprietary diagnostics, consistently and rapidly delivers new high-quality treatments for precision medicine in neurodegenerative diseases.

“These two latest antibody programs have unique binding properties to only the pathological forms of alpha-synuclein and TDP-43, and we are encouraged by the observations of expert groups on their potential attributes as novel therapeutics,” he concluded.