The companies will collaborate to develop and commercialize vectorized antibodies of alpha-synuclein for the potential treatment of Parkinson’s disease, among other synucleinopathies characterized by the abnormal accumulation of misfolded alpha-synuclein protein.
Under the agreement, Voyager will perform research and preclinical development work to vectorize antibodies directed against alpha-synuclein proteins as designated by AbbVie.
AbbVie may select vectorized antibodies to advance into Investigative New Drug (IND)-enabling studies and clinical development of these gene therapies which will use the antibodies to rewire the genes that may cause the abnormal accumulation of alpha-synuclein protein.
Voyager will be responsible for research, IND-enabling, and Phase I clinical activities and costs. Following the completion of Phase I clinical development, AbbVie has the option to license the vectorized alpha-synuclein antibody program from clinical development and global commercialization.
AbbVie will pay Voyager $65m (€57m) in an upfront cash payment. Voyager has the potential to earn up to $245m in preclinical and Phase I option payments, as well as receiving up to $728m in potential development and regulatory milestone payments from each alpha-synuclein vectorized antibody compound. Additionally, Voyager may receive up to $500m in commercial milestones.
Bypassing blood-brain barrier with AAV
Voyager’s vectorized antibody platform is designed to mitigate the limitations previously seen in delivering antibodies across the blood-brain barrier. Utilizing gene therapies to produce antibodies in the brain have historically been done through the use of multiple systemic injections.
Using adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapies that “knock down disease-causing gene expression,” Voyager is able to deliver the therapy to the brain in the necessary capacity, according to Andre Turenne, CEO of Voyager Therapeutics.
He further explained that its AAV gene therapies can increase the expression of missing proteins and enables the expression of therapeutic antibodies through vectorization.
"The expansion of AbbVie's partnership with Voyager represents the potential we see in the ability of its vectorized antibody platform to surpass the blood-brain barrier and more effectively deliver biologic therapies," Jim Summers, vice president, discovery neuroscience research, AbbVie said in a statement.