The first drug candidate from Eisai and University College London (UCL)’s drug discovery collaboration is to enter Phase I clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) early next year.

The candidate drug, 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.

The research partnership between Eisai and UCL was agreed in 2012 for an initial period of six years, but has been extended for a further five years to 2023.

E2814 is one outcome out of a portfolio of projects established during the first phase of the collaboration, designed to prevent the spreading of tau protein “seeds” spread between different areas of the brain as the disease advances within affected individuals.

This prevents further build-up of neurofibrillary tangles, and as a result may slow the course of the disease.

Andy Takle, executive director and head, Eisai Hatfield Research Laboratories said: “The discovery is the result of a truly open partnership with UCL. We are proud that our collaboration has led to the discovery of E2814, which will progress into clinical trials early next year.

“This achievement would not have been possible without the unique collaboration model we have built based on a continued exchange of ideas, and sharing of expertise and resources.”

There is currently no cure for dementia, a disease that 850,000 people live with in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over one million by 2025. It is believed AD accounts for up to 70% of all dementia cases.