MRC Technology, the ‘commercialisation catalyst’ of the UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC), has signed another agreement exploiting the antibody humanisation techniques first invented at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.

Following its recently announced partnership with Organon of The Netherlands for development of a humanised antibody against certain cancers, MRC Technology (MRCT) has now tied up with US biopharmaceutical company Intellect Neurosciences in a collaboration focused on Alzheimer’s disease.

Under the agreement, MRCT will use its proprietary technology and know-how to humanise Intellect’s beta amyloid-specific monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The drug candidates are based on the US company’s Antisenilin technology platform for passive immunisation against Alzheimer’s.

This involves administering an externally generated antibody – as opposed to active immunisation, i.e., provoking the patient’s own immune system to generate such an antibody – that can bind to the endogenous beta-amyloid toxin, promoting its clearance from the brain and potentially slowing or arresting disease progression.

Milestone payments to MRCT

Intellect will make milestone payments to MRCT related to the development and commercialisation of the humanised antibodies, as well as royalties on sales of any resulting drugs. Intellect holds patents in Japan and other countries for antibodies and methods of treating Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the US company, it has a strong competitive advantage in the Alzheimer’s immunotherapy field due to the proprietary safety features incorporated into its technology platforms. These are designed to reduce the risk of triggering adverse reactions by interfering with the physiological functions of proteins related to the beta-amyloid deposits.

The Therapeutic Antibody Group at MCRT has a track record of successful antibody humanisation stretching back 18 years and including some 30 antibodies. Eight of these human antibodies have progressed to the clinic and two (Elan/Biogen Idec’s Tysabri and Chugai/Roche’s Actemra) have gone on to secure marketing approval.