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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Dan Skovronsky, Eli Lilly CSO

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Donald Trump and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, before boarding Marine One (Getty Images)

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Exelixis CEO Michael Morrissey (file photo)

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