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Abbott invests in potential first-in-class Alzheimer's candidate

Provides funding trials of NeuroGenetic Pharmaceuticals' NGP 555

Abbott's biotech venture capital arm has invested in NeuroGenetic Pharmaceuticals, a privately-held US biotech working on a potential first-in-class treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

The scale of the funding from Abbott Biotech Ventures was not disclosed, but NeuroGenetic's CEO Dr William Comer said it would allow the company to move NGP 555 into clinical trials.

These will use specific amyloid biomarkers and/or brain scanning as an early diagnostic and to monitor drug efficacy in clinical trials.

“Combining early disease identification with a treatment capable of preventing Alzheimer's disease-related pathology, such as NGP 555, would represent an important advance in the ability to prevent Alzheimer's disease or hinder its progression to dementia,” NeuroGenetic said.

The latest investment adds to a grant NeuroGenetic received last year from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The first phase of this was an award for $288,000 with future awards to approach $1m for each subsequent phase, to help fund the preclinical development and regulatory filing for NGP 555.

Alzheimer's disease affects up to 30 million worldwide and NIH forecasts predict rates will rise significantly unless an effective treatment can be found.

There is currently no cure for Alzhmeimer's disease, though a number of treatments on the market can improve symptoms, or temporarily slow down their progression, in some people.

These include cholinesterase inhibitors like Pfizer and Eisai's Aricept (donepezil), Novartis' Exelon (rivastigmine) and Shire and Janssen's Reminyl (galantamine), and Lundbeck's NMDA receptor antagonist Ebixa (memantine).

In contrast NGP 555 is a gamma-secretase modulator that targets the -secretase complex, a key enzyme in the amyloid pathway.

NeuroGenetic says its candidate has excellent brain penetration and is devoid of side-effects seen with other potential amyloid therapies such as gamma-secretase inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies.

Based in San Diego, California, NeuroGenetic was founded in 2009 and focuses on developing innovative drug therapies for Alzheimer's disease.

5th January 2012

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