Dublin, Ireland-based Allergan has stepped into the field of Parkinson's disease with an option to acquire US-based neurodegenerative research group Lysosomal Therapeutics (LTI).

LTI-291, LTI's lead programme, is designed to stimulate the activity of glucocerebrosidase (GCase) in the brain, which is reduced in many lysosomal storage diseases because of mutations in the GBA1 gene.

Around five to 10 percent of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) have such mutations. Given that evidence shows these patients have a more rapid disease progression, it is hoped that activation of GCase by LTI-291 will help to slow it down.

Allergan has bought the right to purchase the company after a Phase Ib trial for LTI-291 has been completed.

Specifics of the deal weren't released, except that Allergan will provide a separate upfront research and development payment and that both companies will establish a joint development committee to oversee the development activities for LTI-291.

"Parkinson's disease is an area of medicine where significant unmet need exists, particularly in the development and potential breakthrough of disease-modifying treatments for the more than 2 million people suffering with Parkinson's today," said David Nicholson, Allergan's chief R&D officer, explaining the firm's interest in the area.

The Irish drug giant said it believes that LTI-291 "represents a compelling opportunity for treatment of Parkinson's in a subpopulation with specific genetic mutations."