Neurimmune and Ono Partner to Create Possible ALS Treatments Based on Antibodies

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

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Neurimmune and Ono Pharmaceutical have entered a strategic partnership to develop human-derived monoclonal antibodies that might become the basis of new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Under the terms of the agreement, Neurimmune will lead research to generate and validate these antibodies using its proprietary reverse translational medicine (RTM) technology platform.

The platform is based on immune responses to disease-related proteins. It selects the antibodies with the fewest off-targets and lowest immunogenicity, the process by which the immune system recognizes a molecule as foreign or invading and launches an attack.

Ono will be responsible for worldwide development and marketing of products stemming from this collaboration.

“We are excited to partner with Ono,” Jan Grimm, chief scientific officer and co-founder of Neurimmune, said in a press release. “This new collaboration serves our commitment to patients to fully leverage our RTM technology for the discovery and development of breakthrough medicines in areas of high unmet medical need.”

In 2016, Neurimmune joined with venture capital fund TVM Life Science Ventures VII and Eli Lilly’s Chorus unit to advance an antibody for ALS and other diseases.

The group created a special-purpose company called AL-S Pharma AG to develop AP-101 to proof-of-concept stage. AP-101 is a human monoclonal antibody that targets misfolded superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1).

Increasing evidence suggests that toxicity of mutated SOD1 in ALS is associated with its propensity to misfold and aggregate. It also seems to support the idea that SOD1 misfolding and aggregation play a critical role in SOD1-associated ALS, and could be considered as therapeutic targets for SOD1-related ALS.

AL-S Pharma is planning to open a first clinical trial of AP-101 in 2018, Neurimmune said in the release.

Through its agreement with Ono, the company will receive an upfront payment and research fees, as well as milestone awards linked to  progress in research and development and royalties on sales.

“Ono identified Neurimmune as the partner of choice for the generation of leads for a target in our portfolio,” said Hiromu Habashita, PhD, corporate officer and executive director of discovery and research at Ono.