Biotech giants, Sangamo Therapeutics and Biogen, have announced a multi-million dollar partnership in the fight against Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other neurological diseases.
Under the terms of the deal, Biogen will pay Sangamo $350 million as part of the collaboration on gene-regulation therapies. Sangamo is eligible for up to $2.37 billion in milestone payments.
"There are currently no approved disease-modifying treatments for patients with many devastating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, creating an urgency for the development of medicines that will not just address symptoms like the current standards of care, but slow or stop the progression of disease," said Sandy Macrae, CEO of Sangamo. "We believe that the promise of genomic medicine in neuroscience is to provide a one-time treatment for patients to alter their natural disease history by addressing the underlying cause at the genomic level."
The partnership will focus on DNA and Sangamo's gene-editing technology, known as 'zinc finger,' which delivers inactivated viruses to cells, where they can edit DNA to manipulate the activity of specific genes.
Sangamo already has a preclinical treatment that represses the tau protein scientists believe is responsible for the development of Alzheimer's. Another preclinical therapy has also shown promise against alpha-synuclein, which is associated with Parkinson's. The company's most advanced medicines target hemophilia, sickle cell disease, and a rare disorder called Fabry disease, as well as many others. The California-based company also has partnerships with Pfizer, Sanofi, and Takeda.
However, it should be noted that the technology is far from being ready for the public. There are still years of development, research, and clinical trials ahead before the treatments can even be proven to work.
Both companies are confident but researchers and analysts remain apprehensive about getting too excited. Late-stage clinical results were mixed. Optimistic analysts estimate the drug, known as aducanumab, has a 50% likelihood of success.
Biogen was founded in 1978 and has a portfolio of medicines to treat multiple sclerosis. It also notably presented the first approved treatments for spinal muscular atrophy. The company also has research programs focused on disease and dementia, neuromuscular disorders, movement disorders, ophthalmology, immunology, neurocognitive disorders, acute neurology, and pain.