- AbbVie has ended a research partnership with Sweden's BioArctic, backing out of further development of an experimental Parkinson's disease drug and other related medicines.
- The decision is a shift from two months ago, when BioArctic listed AbbVie's planned advancement of the Parkinson's drug into Phase 2 clinical testing as one of a series of milestones it hoped would make up "the most exciting year in the company's history."
- "We are disappointed that AbbVie has taken this decision," BioArctic's CEO Gunilla Osswald said in a Wednesday statement, adding that the company will consider its options to progress the drug, known as ABBV-0805.
AbbVie is getting out as Novartis is getting in.
The partnership between AbbVie and BioArctic, begun in 2016, was focused on antibody drugs targeting alpha synuclein, a protein that can misfold and accumulate abnormally in the brains of patients with Parkinson's and related dementias. The protein has therefore become a top target for Parkinson's drug developers, although trial results to date have disappointed.
AbbVie's decision to end its alliance with BioArctic comes four months after Novartis paid UCB $150 million to gain access to a drug targeting alpha synuclein that that company was developing. Along with Novartis, Roche also remains interested in the target, having recently started another trial of an alpha synuclein drug with partner Prothena.
AbbVie's trimmed its Parkinson's disease research elsewhere, too, having ended another alpha synuclein-focused partnership with Voyager Therapeutics in August 2020. The company does have a subcutaneous prodrug formulation of levodopa and carbidopa — two mainstay Parkinson's medications — in late-stage development and expects to win regulatory approval as early as next year.
For BioArctic, AbbVie's decision leaves it without a partner on one of its most advanced experimental drug candidates.
"All available data indicates that ABBV-0805 has uniquely high selectivity for the pathological forms of aggregated alpha-synuclein, as well as Phase 1 data supporting progression to Phase 2," said Osswald in the company's statement.
A Phase 1 study of ABBV-0805 began in 2019, soon after AbbVie exercised a license option to develop the drug, and data from that trial was presented last fall. However, on a federal database of clinical trials, the trial is listed as withdrawn for "strategic considerations," although that change appears to have been made in July 2020.
BioArctic is also the source of a closely watched Alzheimer's drug called lecanemab that's being developed by Eisai and Biogen. Results from a Phase 3 study of the treatment, which was formerly called BAN2401, are expected this year.