Roche and its unit Genentech have agreed to a global, exclusive licence agreement with Belgian company UCB to develop and commercialise an antibody treatment, UCB0107, for Alzheimer’s disease.

UCB0107 is an investigational monoclonal antibody that targets a central Tau epitope to inhibit or mitigate the spread of Tau pathology. It is being developed to potentially treat tauopathies such as progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and Alzheimer’s. 

As part of the agreement, UCB will provide Roche and Genentech with an exclusive licence to develop and commercialise the drug candidate in Alzheimer’s indication.

UCB executive vice-president Charl van Zyl said: “We are excited that Roche and Genentech, with their deep and wide-ranging expertise, capacity and know-how in Alzheimer’s disease, will collaborate with UCB on UCB0107 with a shared ambition to offer people living with Alzheimer’s disease a new treatment option.”

Under the deal, UCB will get an initial upfront payment of $120m.

UCB will finance and conduct a proof-of-concept clinical trial in AD and after the study results are obtained, Genentech can choose to carry out the development or return full rights back to UCB.

If Genentech decides to take up responsibility for further clinical development, UCB may receive cost reimbursement, development and sales milestones, as well as sales royalties, valued at a total of approximately $2bn.

Roche Pharma Partnering global head James Sabry said: “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.”  

The transaction is subject to anti-trust clearance and other customary closing conditions.

Earlier this month, Roche forged a licensing and collaboration agreement with Blueprint Medicines for exclusive rights to co-develop and commercialise the latter’s cancer drug, pralsetinib, outside the US, except in Greater China.

As part of the deal, Blueprint Medicines and Roche unit Genentech will co-commercialise the cancer drug in the US.