Teijin Pharma’s investigational preclinical antibody candidate targets the protein tau, which is involved in many nervous system diseases.
Merck has gained an exclusive global license for the development, manufacture and commercialization of Teijin Pharma’s investigational preclinical antibody candidate targeting the microtubule-associated protein tau (tau; MAPT; FTDP-17), which is involved in numerous nervous system diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
For these exclusive worldwide rights to the anti-tau antibody, Merck will pay an undisclosed upfront fee, milestone payments for achievement of development, regulatory and sales goals and royalty fees on products sales. Teijin Pharma also retains the option to co-promote any approved products in Japan.
“Teijin Pharma scientists have made important progress to advance this investigational anti-tau antibody to this stage of development,” said Darryle Schoepp, Vice President of Neuroscience Discovery with Merck Research Laboratories. “Merck remains committed to developing meaningful therapeutic options for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.”
In fact, Merck already has a number of candidates under investigation for the treatment of AD. The tau ligand 18F]-MK-6240 has potential as a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging agent for quantifying the brain burden of neurofibrillary tangle pathology in people with AD, according to Merck. Verubecestat (MK-8931) is a small-molecule inhibitor of the beta-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1) that is undergoing a phase 3 study for treatment of people with prodromal AD (APECS).
“Securing alliances with leading industry partners is a key part of The Teijin Group strategy,” said Mr. Akihisa Nabeshima, president, Teijin Pharma. “Teijin Pharma believes that Merck’s strong neuroscience expertise makes it well suited to maximize the potential of this candidate.”
MAP proteins exist most commonly in neuron cells in the distal portion of axons and maintain the stability of axonol microtubules. Tau proteins, in particular, stabilize microtubules through interactions with tubulin and by promoting the construction of microtubules from tubulin.
Several other tau-targeting therapies are currently under development by other pharmaceutical companies, including LMTX (TRx0237), a second-generation tau aggregation inhibitor from TauRx Pharmaceuticals Ltd., tau-targeted, liposome-based AD vaccine ACI-35 from AC Immune S.A., the recombinant mAb of ABBV-8E12 from Abbvie, Inc., which targets tau in neurofibrillary tangles in the brain and , a mAb targeting extracellular tau for which Biogen Inc. obtained the rights from Bristol-Myers Squibb.