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Roche pays $120m upfront for UCB’s anti-tau Alzheimer’s drug

Milestone payments could reach up to $2bn

Alzheimer's

Roche has agreed to pay $120m upfront for access to UCB’s experimental anti-tau antibody treatment, with additional contingent payments potentially totalling up to $2bn.

The investigational treatment, UCB0107, is a monoclonal antibody drug being developed by UCB as a potential treatment for patients with tauopathies, such as progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and Alzheimer’s disease.

The drug is designed to block and reduce the buildup of tau proteins that cause cell damage and neuronal death in the brain. Tau pathology is indicated in a number of progressive neurological diseases, and has been theorised as a cause of disease worsening in Alzheimer’s.

UCB is already developing UCB0107 in PSP, with a confirmatory phase 3 study due to begin in the second quarter of 2021.

Alzheimer’s is a notoriously difficult research area, with a clutch of drugs failing to improve the condition in late-stage trials despite encouraging results in early studies. Many of these drugs have attempted to target abnormal beta-amyloid proteins, which form plaques between neurons in the brain which can damage cells.

Roche’s own anti-amyloid drug is included in this group – its investigational treatment gantenerumab was unable to slow cognitive decline among patients with inherited forms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Aside from Roche, one of the most high-profile anti-amyloid treatments, currently under review with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is Biogen’s aducanumab. The company initially shelved development of the drug after disappointing results in phase 3, but after a re-examine of the data Biogen decided the benefit in the high-dose arm was convincing enough to seek regulatory approval.

The failures in anti-amyloid research and development has opened up the door for other targets in Alzheimer's drug development, including anti-tau treatments like UCB0107.

Under the terms of the deal, UCB will fund and carry out a proof-of-concept study of the drug in Alzheimer's. If this proves successful, Roche will have the option to take over subsequent development or return the rights back to UCB.

"In Alzheimer's disease, we are continuing to explore new molecules that address the key pathways of this complex disease. We are pleased to embark on this journey together with UCB to help expand our efforts on tau,” said James Sabry, global head of Roche Pharma Partnering.

“Our commitment remains strong on exploring multiple approaches with the hope that our research and development, including this collaboration with UCB, will lead to a disease-modifying medicine that could positively impact millions of people with Alzheimer's disease," he added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

30th July 2020

From: Research

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