AC Immune CEO Andrea Pfeifer

Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company, Roche, will receive access to AC Immune’s anti-tau antibodies, used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative illnesses, in a deal that could be worth in excess of $418m.

Roche has signed a second license and research agreement with AC Immune for the treatment, under which AC Immune will receive an undisclosed upfront payment whilst remaining eligible for milestone payments worth more than CHF400m ($418m), as well as royalties based upon net sales.

In accordance with the terms of the agreement, AC Immune will partner with Roche subsidiary Genentech to work towards the formulation of several pre-clinical candidates, with Genentech retaining responsibility for the development, manufacture and commercialisation of any resulting antibodies.

AC Immune CEO Andrea Pfeifer heralded the agreement, citing the relationship with Genentech as a major factor.

"The anti-tau antibodies have proven highly specific to misfold tau in relevant animal models for Alzheimer’s disease."

"This underlines Genentech’s trust in AC Immune’s proprietary technology platform and we are confident in our joint abilities to develop not only first-in-class, but also best-in-class medication for one of the biggest healthcare problems of this century," added Pfeifer.

AC Immune board chairman, Martin Velasco, said: "This second licensing deal gives us financial security to continue AC Immune’s world-leading efforts to develop disease modifying therapies and diagnostics. We are now recognised as having one of the broadest and most advanced Alzheimer’s pipelines in the industry."

Discovered and humanised by AC Immune’s proprietary SupraAntigen technology, anti-tau antibodies can combat Alzheimer’s by causing misfolds in tau proteins that form twisted fibres inside brain cells, considered to be the second major cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

AC Immune chief scientific officer, Andreas Muhs, added: "The anti-tau antibodies have proven highly specific to misfold tau in relevant animal models for Alzheimer’s disease and are therefore well suited to be developed as a disease-modifying drug. This has significant potential as there are at present no known cures for Alzheimer’s disease."

Image: AC Immune CEO Andrea Pfeifer is confident of the company’s abilities to develop best-in-class medication for Alzheimer’s disease. Photo courtesy of: AC Immune.