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15 November, 2018 - 10:17 By Kate Sweeney

Mission possible in Cambridge-Chicago alliance on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Cambridge business Mission Therapeutics and US company AbbVie have joined forces to leverage the UK company’s technology targeting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

No figures are being released but Business Weekly understands the long-term success of the alliance will unlock multimillions of dollars for both parties. AbbVie is the first major corporate collaborator on this element of Mission’s platform.

The collaboration combines Mission’s unique science, chemistry and proprietary enzyme platform with Chicago-based AbbVie’s strong neurodegenerative disease research, development and commercialisation capabilities.

Mission is a drug discovery and development company focused on selectively targeting deubiquitylating enzymes. It has strong links with key academic and research centres, including leading UK hubs in neurodegenerative diseases as well as Professor Steve Jackson’s Cancer Research UK Laboratories at the University of Cambridge Gurdon Institute. The company is managed by a team with broad international, commercial and clinical-science experience.

In February 2016, the company completed an $86 million financing led by Imperial Innovations (now part of IP Group) and Woodford Patient Capital Trust and included participation from existing investors Sofinnova Partners, Roche Venture Fund, Pfizer Venture Investments and SR One. Mission was founded in 2011 and has operations based at the Babraham Research Campus and nearby Granta Park, Cambridge, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are associated with the accumulation of misfolded, toxic proteins, which are believed to cause impaired function and death of nerve cells in the brain. DUBs play an important role in keeping a cell healthy by regulating the degradation of these proteins.

There are over 100 different DUBs in humans. By modulating specific DUBs within the brain, AbbVie and Mission are aiming to develop potential therapeutics that enable the degradation of these toxic proteins and prevent their accumulation.

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are the most common forms of neurological disorders.  In 2017, an estimated 50 million people were living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease; this number is expected to double every 20 years, reaching 75 million by 2030.

More than 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease. There are currently no treatments to stop or reverse either disease’s progression, only to alleviate the symptoms.

Dr James B Summers, VP of Neuroscience Discovery Research, AbbVie said: “There is an urgent need for new treatments that will make a positive impact on the lives of patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

“Mission’s scientists have developed impressive early research toward the understanding of these diseases. Together, we will work to advance this early science and develop meaningful therapies.”

Dr Anker Lundemose, Mission CEO added: “AbbVie is one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies so having them as our first major collaborator is a great validation of our science. It also marks a significant milestone in our strategic aim of realising some of the value of our DUB expertise through key industry partnerships.

“The AbbVie team brings complementary capabilities and expertise as well as finance, and we greatly anticipate working with them. Together we can advance the development of Mission’s best-in-class, DUB technology platform to find effective treatments for these unmet neurodegenerative diseases.”

Under the terms of the agreement, both parties will collaborate during the research stage to identify specific DUBs and discover suitable compounds. AbbVie will then have the option to gain exclusive rights to develop and commercialise DUB inhibitors against up to four selected targets.

AbbVie will pay Mission an upfront license fee and Mission is also eligible to receive success-based milestone payments and royalty payments for each commercialised product. The collaboration does not include any of Mission’s lead DUB programs including USP30 and USP10.

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