Lausanne, Switzerland, - October 3, 2017 - AC Immune SA (NASDAQ: ACIU), a Swiss-based, clinical stage biopharmaceutical company with a broad pipeline focused on neurodegenerative diseases, today announced it has been awarded a continuation of a February 2015 research grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF). This provides funds for the development of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) tracers for the alpha-synuclein protein, to support the early diagnosis and clinical management of Parkinson's disease. AC Immune has been collaborating on this biomarker program with Biogen, since April 2016. AC Immune expects to move the program into clinical development in 2018.
Prof. Andrea Pfeifer, CEO of AC Immune, said: "We are honored to receive continued funding from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for this important diagnostic program in Parkinson's disease, which we are working on in collaboration with Biogen. The support of MJFF further validates AC Immune's leading expertise in the pathology of misfolded proteins. We continue to leverage our proprietary technology platforms, developing both diagnostic and therapeutic agents for multiple neurodegenerative diseases."
Dr. David Lowe, Principal Investigator for the study and Innovation Fellow of AC Immune said: "The valuable continued support of the prestigious Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research reinforces our dedication to producing a vital tool for the use of physicians in combatting this debilitating disease. We aim to move this PET tracer program into the clinic in 2018."
"The development of an alpha-synuclein imaging agent would be transformative for Parkinson's disease patient care and drug development. We are pleased with the progress of the AC Immune program toward this critical goal," commented Jamie Eberling, PhD, director of research programs at MJFF.
About the R&D program
Such alpha-synuclein-PET tracers would help to diagnose Parkinson's disease earlier and more accurately. This technology has multiple advantages including direct detection of alpha-synuclein pathology in patients and the capacity to monitor the efficacy of therapeutics reducing alpha-synuclein aggregates in clinical trials. AC Immune's proprietary MorphomerTM chemistry technology platform is designed to interact with misfolded and aggregated proteins. Promising small molecules have been identified with good selectivity for alpha-synuclein and suitable properties for the development as PET ligands. The ability to precisely diagnose Parkinson's disease and other synucleinopathies and therefore treat patients earlier is critical to disease management that uses novel therapeutic approaches.
About alpha-synuclein-PET tracers
A brain Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan is an imaging test of the brain involving an imaging device and an imaging agent called a PET tracer. No alpha-synuclein-PET tracer has received regulatory approval for commercial distribution, which represents an important medical need, not only in Parkinson's disease but also in other synucleinopathies such as dementia with Lewy bodies and multiple system atrophy. Once the alpha-synuclein-PET tracer is introduced to the body, it transiently enters the brain and binds to abnormal alpha-synuclein protein structures (Lewy bodies). Through the radio-tracer on the tracer molecule, the imaging device detects the bound alpha-synuclein imaging agent and creates pictures reflecting the amount and distribution of pathological alpha-synuclein in the brain.
About Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder after Alzheimer's disease. Parkinson's disease affects approximately 1% of individuals older than 60 years and causes progressive disability (motor and non-motor symptoms). Current therapies only treat the symptoms of Parkinson's; there is no available treatment that can slow or halt disease progression. The two major neuropathological findings in Parkinson's disease are loss of dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra pars compacta and the presence of Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites in which the major constituent is alpha-synuclein. The abnormal accumulations of fibrillar alpha-synuclein in Lewy bodies, and the mutations in the gene for alpha-synuclein in familial forms of Parkinson's disease, have led to the belief that this protein has a central role in Parkinson's disease. The development of alpha-synuclein pathology appears to correlate with the loss of dopaminergic neurons and subsequent decline in motor performance, making it a highly relevant molecular target for diagnostic approaches.
About The Michael J. Fox Foundation
As the world's largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson's research, The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to accelerating a cure for Parkinson's disease and improved therapies for those living with the condition today. The Foundation pursues its goals through an aggressively funded, highly targeted research program coupled with active global engagement of scientists, Parkinson's patients, business leaders, clinical trial participants, donors and volunteers. In addition to funding more than $700 million in research to date, the Foundation has fundamentally altered the trajectory of progress toward a cure. Operating at the hub of worldwide Parkinson's research, the Foundation forges groundbreaking collaborations with industry leaders, academic scientists and government research funders; increases the flow of participants into Parkinson's disease clinical trials with its online tool, Fox Trial Finder; promotes Parkinson's awareness through high-profile advocacy, events and outreach; and coordinates the grassroots involvement of thousands of Team Fox members around the world.
About AC Immune
AC Immune is a clinical stage Swiss-based biopharmaceutical company focused on neurodegenerative diseases with four product candidates in clinical trials. The Company designs, discovers and develops therapeutic and diagnostic products intended to prevent and modify diseases caused by misfolding proteins. AC Immune's two proprietary technology platforms create antibodies, small molecules and vaccines designed to address a broad spectrum of neurodegenerative indications, such as Alzheimer's disease. The Company's pipeline features nine therapeutic and three diagnostic product candidates. The most advanced of these is crenezumab, an anti-Abeta antibody in phase 3 clinical studies that is being advanced by the collaboration partner Genentech, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Roche. Other collaborations include Biogen, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences, Piramal Imaging and Essex Bio-Technology.
Forward looking statements
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