AbbVie has collaborated with UK-based drug discovery firm Mission Therapeutics for research and preclinical development of potential therapies to treat Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

The partners will focus on compounds that selectively target deubiquitylating enzymes (DUBs).

Both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are characterised by aggregation of misfolded, toxic proteins that are believed to result in impaired function and death of nerve cells in the brain.

DUBs are responsible for keeping a cell healthy through regulation of the toxic proteins’ degradation.

The partners intend to modulate select DUBs to formulate drug candidates that would activate the degradation of these proteins and prevent their accumulation.

Mission Therapeutics CEO Anker Lundemose said: “The AbbVie team brings complementary capabilities and expertise as well as finance, and we greatly anticipate working with them.

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“Together we can advance the development of Mission’s best-in-class, DUB technology platform to find effective treatments for these unmet neurodegenerative diseases.”

As part of the agreement, AbbVie and Mission will work together to identify specific DUBs and find suitable compounds during the research stage.

“Together we can advance the development of Mission’s best-in-class, DUB technology platform to find effective treatments for these unmet neurodegenerative diseases.”

AbbVie will hold an option to obtain exclusive rights to develop and commercialise the DUB inhibitors against up to four selected targets.

Mission will receive an upfront licence fee from AbbVie, which may also pay additional amount upon achieving certain milestones along with royalty payments for each commercialised product.

Financial details of the partnership have not been disclosed.

AbbVie Neuroscience Discovery Research vice-president James Summers said: “There is an urgent need for new treatments that will make a positive impact on the lives of patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

“Mission’s scientists have developed impressive early research toward the understanding of these diseases. Together, we will work to advance this early science and develop meaningful therapies.”

Known to be the most common forms of neurological disorders, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s currently lack drugs to stop or reverse disease progression.