- AbbVie has just opened a 43,000-square-foot Neuroscience Center in Cambridge, MA. The new center has a major focus on Alzheimer's disease (AD), and will also do research in other neuroscience areas, including Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.
- AbbVie received a $525,000 tax break from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center in exchange for the promise of 70 new jobs in MA, including 35 at the new facility and 35 at its existing Worcester site, according to the Boston Globe. Current plans are to hire 50 researchers and scientists by nex year for the new Neuroscience Center.
- Although AbbVie has traditionally focused on immunology, virology and cancer, since Michael Severino came on board in 2014 after leaving Amgen, AbbVie's R&D focus has broadened to include neuroscience.
Finding a cure for AD has become the holy grail of neuroscience research, and for AbbVie, Cambridge, MA is the perfect place to set up shop. Not only are there opportunities to collaborate with academic researchers at institutions, such as Harvard and Boston University, but AbbVie already has a Worcester site in MA, about an hour away.
The Worcester site has 800 people, who primarily focus on immunology drug research, protein engineering, and small-batch manufacturing of biotech drugs for clinical trials. The Worcester site is also where AbbVie's mega-blockbuster for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, Humira,was developed.
AbbVie is joining companies working on AD, who currently have a pipeline candidate, including Biogen, Eli Lilly and Merck. AbbVie's AD drug candidate is an antibody that targets the Tau protein. AbbVie in-licensed this compound, known as ABBV-8E12, from C2N Diagnostics LLC in St. Louis last March. Last summer, AbbVie was granted orphan drug status for ABBV-8E12 for treatment of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a rare neurodegenerative disease. Research continues in both PSP and AD.
The sense of urgency around AD has intensified over the years as the failures have mounted, while the number of people affected increases. Roughly 40 million people worldwide have AD, including an estimated five million Americans. By 2040, if no effective interventions are developed, about 28 million people will have AD in the US. Assuming this happens, analysts have estimated that the costs associated with AD will consume one quarter of the entire Medicare budget.