First Drug Candidate From Eisai-UCL Research Collaboration To Enter Alzheimer's Disease Clinical Trials

WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J./PRNewswire/ -- Eisai announced today that the first investigational drug candidate from their drug discovery collaboration with University College London (UCL) is to enter Phase I clinical trials for Alzheimer's disease (AD) in early 2019. The candidate, known as E2814, is an anti-tau monoclonal antibody set to be tested in human trials for the first time to assess its ability to slow the progression of AD.

AD is a chronic, progressive, neurodegenerative disease characterized by formation of protein deposits known as plaques (made of amyloid-beta protein) and neurofibrillary tangles (made of tau protein) in patient's brains. Tau "seeds" are believed to spread between different areas of the brain as the disease advances. E2814 is designed to target the tau "seeds", preventing further build-up of neurofibrillary tangles and thus may slow the course of the disease. 

The research collaboration, agreed in 2012 for an initial period of six years, has been extended for a further 5 years to 2023. It was established as part of Eisai's Open Innovation strategy to collaborate with leading researchers in order to translate new research findings into innovative treatments for patients with neurodegenerative diseases. E2814 is one outcome out of a portfolio of projects established during the first phase of the collaboration with UCL.

"Significant unmet medical needs exist for neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease due to a lack of effective treatments that can prevent disease progression, and Eisai's mission is to contribute to overcoming these issues," said Teiji Kimura, Chief Discovery Officer of the Eisai Neurology Business Group. "By combining the knowledge of UCL, which conducts world-class research into neurodegenerative disorders and is the operational hub of the UK Dementia Research Institute, together with the knowledge of Eisai, who possesses a rich pipeline for dementia treatments, we are doing our utmost to link the results of joint research starting with E2814 to new medicines in order to contribute to patients who are awaiting curative therapies as soon as possible."

Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences, said, "This unique research partnership brings together UCL's world-class academic research capabilities with the drug discovery expertise of industry. These results highlight the success of bringing together such complementary expertise."

There are an estimated approximately 50 million dementia patients worldwide. As the aging of the global population gathers pace, the number of dementia patients is expected to continue trending upward and increase to approximately 82 million patients in 2030 and approximately 152 million in 2050. It is believed AD accounts for up to 70% of all dementia cases. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease.

What is E2814?
E2814 is an anti-tau monoclonal antibody. It is being investigated as a potential disease modifying agent for the treatment of AD, entering Phase I clinical trials in early 2019. The drug candidate was discovered as part of the research collaboration between Eisai and UCL and is designed to prevent the spreading of tau protein "seeds" within the brains of affected individuals. 

What is Alzheimer's disease?
AD is the most common cause of dementia. The symptoms can include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving and language. During the course of the disease, proteins build up in the brain to form structures called 'plaques' and 'tangles'. This leads to the loss of connections between nerve cells, and eventually to the death of nerve cells and loss of brain tissue.

Eisai's Open Innovation
Open Innovation is collaboration through the sharing of knowledge, resources and expertise to achieve outcomes which no one, single party can in isolation. Our philosophy is to avoid parochialism and be open minded to new ideas and new ways of working. As part of this commitment, Eisai works in partnership with a number of world-class research organisations including University College London (UCL).

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About University College London (UCL)
UCL was founded in 1826. We were the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. We are among the world's top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables. UCL currently has over 38,000 students from 150 countries and over 12,000 staff. Our annual income is more than £1 billion.

About the UK Dementia Research Institute (DRI)
Funded by the Medical Research Council, Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer's Research UK, the UK DRI draws world-leaders in dementia research into a single national institute. UCL is home to the operational headquarters of the UK DRI and forms the hub for research activities across the six national research centres, which are at UCL, the University of CambridgeCardiff University, the University of Edinburgh, Imperial College London and King's College London. By convening world-class dementia researchers to bring about ground-breaking approaches to dementia defined by close collaboration and access to exceptional research resources, the UK DRI aims to find better ways to care for patients.

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As a global pharmaceutical company, our mission extends to patients around the world through our investment and participation in partnership-based initiatives to improve access to medicines in developing and emerging countries.