Biogen Idec and Switzerland’s Neurimmune Therapeutics have entered into an agreement to develop and commercialise fully human antibodies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

The alliance will focus on the development of antibodies that bind to amyloid beta, a pathogenic molecule which is thought to cause neurodegeneration and loss of cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients patients. Currently there are no therapies approved to slow or stop the progression of the disease.

Under the terms of the agreement, Neurimmune, which was set up as a spin-off of the University of Zurich last November, will conduct research to identify therapeutic antibodies using its ‘reverse translational medicine’ platform and could receive up to $380 million in upfront and milestone payments. Biogen will be responsible for developing and marketing any products that come out of the link-up.

Edward Stuart, Neurimmune’s chief executive, said that Biogen, with its “deep history in neuroscience”, has the manufacturing, development and commercialisation capabilities “to leverage our discovery and technology expertise”. He added that the RTM platform is well suited to the identification of novel, safe immunotherapies “and we are particularly proud to have entered into this deal less than one year after the founding of the company”.