Uppsala discovery can become medicine to halt Alzheimer‚s

6 December 2007

Within a couple of years research findings from Uppsala University may lead to a new medicine with the potential to halt the progress of Alzheimer‚s disease. The Japanese pharmaceutical giant Eisai has acquired the right to a new antibody, developed by the Swedish company Bioarctic Neuroscience AB, whose research is based on a discovery by Lars Lannfelt, a professor of genetics.

The antibody in question is BAN2401, which is under preliminary development. The antibody attacks the so-called protofibrills that are believed to be the cause of Alzheimer‚s disease. The Bioarctic company, headquartered in Stockholm, is developing new forms of treatment and diagnosis for Alzheimer‚s disease. As early as the summer of 2005 the company embarked upon strategic collaborative work with Japanese Eisai. The aim was to develop a new method for treating Alzheimer‚s disease. Bioarctic, in turn, has been collaborating with Lars Lannfelt‚s research team at the Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences at Uppsala University. In Alzheimer‚s disease, senile plaques are formed in the brain, aggregations consisting primarily of beta-amyloid protein. Alzheimer‚s researchers at Uppsala have shown that it is the preliminary stage of plaque growth, the formation of so-called protofibrills, that cause the death of nerve cells and the loss of contact surfaces required for functioning nerve cell communication in the brain. This damage to the brain leads to the symptoms of the disease. When it comes to finding medicines to fight the disease, a great deal of research has focused on immunization or vaccination. The Uppsala scientists have concentrated on finding an antibody that can function as a vaccine against the preliminary stage of Alzheimer‚s. The research team has developed a unique animal model where they have treated genetically modified Alzheimer‚s mice with so-called passive immunization. They have given the animals a specially designed antibody that seeks out and binds to protofibrills, enabling them to be degraded. The antibody has subsequently been humanized and produced by Bioarctic, and it is now being sold with the potential of becoming a new drug. Entirely new concept „We are extremely happy about our collaboration with Eisai, which is one of the world‚s leading pharmaceutical corporations in Alzheimer‚s research. Since we are working with an entirely new concept for treatment of this serious disorder, we want to have a strong and long-term relationship with a collaborative partner devoted to making this exciting project available on the market,” says Pär Gellefors, CEO of Bioarctic Neuroscience. Gellerfors and Lars Lannfelt co-founded Bioarctic Neuroscience AB. Ownership is shared with Uppsala University Holding AB and Karolinska Institute Innovation. Through its acquisition, Japanese Eisai will have global rights to study, develop, and market the antibody in order to find a treatment for Alzheimer‚s disease. Bioarctic retains the right to market the antibody in the Nordic countries. Eisai already sells the leading Alzheimer‚s treatment Aricept. The company does not wish to disclose the financial terms for the acquisition of the antibody.

Last modified: 2021-02-14