AC Immune and Essex Bio-Technology have signed a research collaboration agreement to conduct a pre-clinical study and clinical codevelopment of a novel biological therapeutic to treat neurodegenerative diseases and neuroinflammation.

Under the collaboration, both companies will seek to develop a recombinant protein therapeutic candidate that can act on a unique neuroprotective mechanism to treat neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and frontotemporal dementia.

Alongside undertaking joint research commitment, Essex will also provide financial support to AC Immune for the pre-IND development of the biological agent.

Both companies also agreed to pursue a joint clinical development and commercial strategy for a potential product.

AC Immune CEO Andrea Pfeifer said: “This collaboration is especially powerful as it allows AC Immune and Essex Bio-Technology to combine our respective technologies and expertise in neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation: two important therapeutic areas where there remains a high unmet medical need. 

“This agreement is also important because it gives AC Immune its first R&D base in Asia with potential new development opportunities in that region.

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"The collaboration is a natural progression for our two companies who know each other very well, Essex Bio-Technology being a significant shareholder of AC Immune."

"It allows AC Immune and Essex Bio-Technology to combine our respective technologies and expertise in neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation."

The specific timelines and the financial terms of the collaboration agreement have not been revealed.

AC Immune designs, develops therapeutic and diagnostic products that can prevent and modify diseases caused by misfolding proteins.

It has seven therapeutic and three diagnostic product candidates, with crenezumab being in the most advanced stage.

It is an anti-Abeta antibody currently under Phase III clinical studies, which is being advanced in collaboration with Genentech, a wholly owned subsidiary of Roche.

Image: AC Immune at the EPFL Innovation Park. Photo: © AC Immune.