Voyager Therapeutics struck a deal with Illinois-based AbbVie to develop and commercialize vectorized antibodies directed at pathological species of alpha-synuclein for the potential treatment of Parkinson’s disease and other diseases characterized by the abnormal accumulation of misfolded alpha-synuclein protein.
A hallmark of Parkinson’s disease is the accumulation of misfolded alpha-synuclein that can eventually lead to the formation of protein deposits and progressive neurodegeneration. For years, there have been limitations to delivering effective biologic therapies for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s due to the difficulties of crossing the blood-brain barrier. Voyager’s vectorized antibody platform aims to circumvent the limitation of the failures to cross the blood-brain barrier. The platform uses a one-time intravenous treatment of the genes that encode for the production of therapeutic antibodies using the company’s adeno-associated virus capsids. The company said this approach has the potential for higher levels of therapeutic antibodies in the brain compared with current systemic administration of antibodies.
«Our scientific platform allows us to develop unique AAV gene therapies that are designed to knock down disease-causing gene expression, increase the expression of missing proteins, or enable the expression of therapeutic antibodies through vectorization,» Andre Turenne, president and chief executive officer of Voyager Therapeutics said in a statement. «We are excited to expand our efforts towards pathological species of alpha-synuclein given its role in the progression of disease, and AbbVie is the ideal partner to advance this new target and therapeutic modality.»
For Cambridge, Mass.-based Voyager, the strategic collaboration, could be worth more than $1 billion through Phase I development. Under terms of the deal, AbbVie will pay Voyager $65 million in upfront money. Voyager can earn an additional $245 million in preclinical and Phase I option payments. Voyager can also earn an additional $728 million in potential development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments and royalties. Additionally, Voyager will be eligible to earn up to a total of $500 million in commercial milestones.
Per the details of the deal, Voyager will be responsible for the research and Phase I clinical activities and costs. Following completion of Phase I clinical development, AbbVie has an option to license the vectorized alpha-synuclein antibody program for further clinical development and global commercialization for indications including Parkinson’s disease and other synucleinopathies, the companies said.
Last year, the two companies launched a collaborative deal to develop treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases that has a potential value of about $1.2 billion. Jim Summers, vice president of discovery neuroscience research at AbbVie, said the expansion of the partnership between the two companies represents the potential seen in the ability of Voyager’s vectorized antibody platform to surpass the blood-brain barrier and more effectively deliver biologic therapies.
«We are hopeful that Voyager’s technology will enable further development of transformative treatments for patients with neurodegenerative diseases,” Summers said in a statement.
Shares of Voyager has shot up more than 18 percent since the deal was announced. The stock is trading at $12.61 as of 10:57 a.m.
A Product Manager with expertise in pharma marketing and sales operations