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Eisai and Biogen partner on Alzheimer’s

Will co-develop two drug candidates
Biogen Idec building

Biogen Idec has agreed a deal with Japan-based pharma company Eisai to develop and commercialise potential treatments for Alzheimer's deal.

As part of the collaboration, the companies will jointly develop Eisai's two drug candidates E2609 and BAN2401, both of which are designed to target build-ups of amyloid plaque in the brain, reducing current levels and stopping the formation of new plaques.

These amyloid plaques have long been a target for companies working in Alzheimer's, although few breakthroughs have emerged, with several firms, such as Lilly and Johnson & Johnson, enduring trial disappointments after drug candidates failed to improve symptoms of the neurological condition.

However, the plaques remain a viable target for many researchers, with current scientific thought suggesting that treatment needs to be started at an earlier stage of the disease in order to be effective.

E2609 and BAN2401 have both shown promise in this area, although each works in a different way.

E2609 is a BACE inhibitor, a relatively new class of dementia treatment that works by blocking the conversion of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) into the plaque. Other companies with their own promising BACE inhibitors include Merck & Co and Lilly.

BAN2401 is an antibody that uses the body's own immune system to suppress progression of the diseases. Other Alzheimer's antibodies include Roche's gantenerumab and Lilly's solanezumab.

Financial terms of the deal were undisclosed, although Biogen Idec will pay Eisai an upfront fee as well as development commercial milestones.

Eisai also has an option to jointly develop and commercialise two of Biogen Idec's candidates in development to treat Alzheimer's.

As for E2609 and BAN2401, Eisai will take the lead in terms of operational and regulatory activities for both drugs, pursuing marketing authorisation worldwide, while both companies will share overall costs.

In terms of commercialisation, Eisai and Biogen Idec will co-promote the products in the traditional major markets and the US and the EU.

Biogen Idec's CEO George Scangos said the deal fitted into Biogen Idec's current activities in Alzheimer's, which includes a 2010 deal with Neurimmune to use immunotherapies to treat neurodegenerative diseases.

“Eisai's candidates have demonstrated compelling early data and complement our Alzheimer's research while extending our pipeline in this critical area,” said Scangos.

Eisai's own experience in the field includes the revolutionary Aricept (donepezil), co-developed with Pfizer, as well as a more recent neurology partnership with UK-based university UCL.

5th March 2014

From: Research

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