AbbVie enlists protein degradation experts at Mission for a new bet on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s

As a group of preclinical biotechs focused on protein degradation steadily gathers steam, AbbVie is jumping on the bandwagon albeit steering it to a somewhat surprising direction: Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Mission Therapeutics, its chosen partner, has been concentrating much of its efforts on hitting USP30 and USP10 — two of over 100 deubiquitylating enzymes, or DUBs, in the human body that collectively serve as a natural “garbage disposal” system for cells — with one USP30 program in Parkinson’s and neurodegeneration. AbbVie, though, is more interested in identifying new DUB targets and getting Mission’s discovery platform to churn out bespoke compounds.

Anker Lundemose

The collaboration covers exclusive rights to up to four selected targets — each to come with its own upfront license fee and milestones for the Cambridge, UK-based biotech — if AbbVie exercises its option. Financial terms were kept under wraps.

The theory is that by eliminating and preventing the accumulation of misfolded, toxic proteins — the hallmarks of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s — they can address the function impairment and brain nerve cell deaths that come with the diseases.

Two of these proteins, tau and amyloid beta, remain the two key targets in Alzheimer’s, even after a series of major setbacks in the field raise fresh questions about how much we know and don’t know about this devastating diseases.

While this marks the first major pact for Mission in its seven years according to CEO Anker Lundemose, it’s one of several early bets for AbbVie, which in February had also handed Voyager Therapeutics $69 million to pursue a gene therapy approach to Alzheimer’s.

Mission’s peers in the protein degradation field, meanwhile, are mainly focused on oncology, from C4 Therapeutics, Arvinas to Kymera, which raised $65 million just days ago.

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