AbbVie has expanded its collaboration with gene therapies developer Voyager Therapeutics to include treatments for diseases characterised by abnormal accumulation of misfolded alpha-synuclein protein, including Parkinson’s disease.

The companies previously partnered in February last year on new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases caused due to tau protein accumulation, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Under the latest exclusive, global strategic collaboration and option agreement, the partners will develop and commercialise vectorized antibodies that will target pathological species of alpha-synuclein.

The alliance will use Voyager’s vectorized antibody platform to deliver antibodies across the blood-brain barrier with potentially one-time, intravenous administration.

This is expected to be achieved by delivering genes that encode therapeutic antibodies production using Voyager’s blood-brain barrier penetrant adeno-associated virus (AAV) capsids.

Compared to existing techniques of systemic antibodies administration, the new approach is anticipated to result in higher therapeutic antibody levels.

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AbbVie discovery neuroscience research vice-president Jim Summers said: “The expansion of AbbVie’s partnership with Voyager represents the potential we see in the ability of its vectorized antibody platform to surpass the blood-brain barrier and more effectively deliver biologic therapies.

“We are hopeful that Voyager’s technology will enable further development of transformative treatments for patients with neurodegenerative diseases.”

“We are hopeful that Voyager’s technology will enable further development of transformative treatments for patients with neurodegenerative diseases.”

As per the terms of the alpha-synuclein agreement, Voyager will conduct research and preclinical development work to vectorize antibodies targeting the protein that are designated by AbbVie.

AbbVie will then have an option to select vectorized antibodies for advancement into investigational new drug (IND)-enabling studies and clinical development.

Voyager will bear the costs associated with the research, IND-enabling and Phase I clinical activities.

After the completion of the Phase I development, AbbVie can choose to licence the vectorized alpha-synuclein antibody programme for further development and global commercialisation across various indications.

AbbVie will pay $65m in upfront payment to Voyager, which is also eligible for up to $245m in preclinical and Phase I option payments, along with up to $728m potential development and regulatory milestone payments for each compound.

Voyager will also receive tiered royalties on the global net sales of each and may also gain up to a total of $500m in commercial milestones.