AbbVie Forms Neurodegenerative Disease Pact Worth up to $1.1 Billion

By Akia Thorpe -

February 21, 2018

AbbVie and Voyager Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-headquartered clinical-stage gene-therapy company, have partnered to develop and commercialize vectorized antibodies directed against tau, a protein in the brain that promotes cellular stability, for treating Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases in a deal worth up to $1.1 billion.

The collaboration combines AbbVie's monoclonal antibody experience and global clinical-development and commercial capabilities with Voyager's gene-therapy platform and experience that allows generation of adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors for treating neurodegenerative diseases.

The company says in a diseased brain, altered tau accumulates, resulting in impaired brain function and neuronal cell loss. This collaboration seeks to develop a potential one-time treatment using Voyager's gene-therapy platform to reduce tau pathology through the delivery of an AAV vector antibody that encodes the genetic instructions to produce anti-tau antibodies within the brain.

Under the agreement, Voyager will receive an upfront cash payment of $69 million as well as up to $155 million in potential preclinical and Phase I option payments. In addition, Voyager is eligible to receive up to $895 million in development and regulatory milestones for each vectorized tau antibody compound and is eligible to receive tiered royalties on the global commercial net sales of the vectorized antibodies for tauopathies, including Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Voyager will perform research and preclinical development of vectorized antibodies directed against tau, after which AbbVie may select one or more vectorized antibodies to proceed into investigational new drug (IND)-enabling studies and clinical development. Voyager will be responsible for the research, IND-enabling, and Phase I studies activities and costs. Following completion of Phase I clinical development, AbbVie has an option to license the vectorized tau antibody program and would then lead further clinical development and global commercialization for tauopathies, including Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. Voyager has an option to share in the costs of clinical development for higher royalty rates.

Source: AbbVie