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Mar 16, 2012

Grifols Nabs 51% Stake in Alzheimer Disease Dx, Vaccines Firm Araclon

  • Grifols acquired a 51% stake in fellow Spanish firm Araclon Biotech, a spin-out from the University of Zaragoza developing treatments and diagnostics for Alzheimer disease (AD). The acquisition was made through Grifols’ Gri-Cel investment arm, which was established in 2010 to support the group’s involvement in new fields of medicine through its participation in promising research initiatives.

    Araclon was founded in 2004 to develop new treatments and diagnostics for neurodegenerative diseases, and is initially working on the development of a kit for early AD diagnosis, as well as an AD vaccine. The ABtest40 and ABtest42 kits are quantitative colorimetric ELISA assays designed to detect amyloid-β peptides AB40 and AB42 in the blood.

    The firm claims the kits demonstrate sensitivity, detection rates, and reproducibility that are greater than those of other products on the market. Validation studies are ongoing, including a 255-patient trial that aims to confirm the ability of the tests to predict progression to AD in patients presenting with mild cognitive impairment. Araclon’s active immunotherapy for AD is also focused on the AB40 and AB42 peptides, and is pending regulatory approval to start in clinical trials. The firm has an additional R&D project focused on predicting AD in asymptomatic individuals.

    Grifols claims its stake in Araclon will guarantee the latter’s future and enable it to continue its R&D work on diagnostics for early AD detection, disease monitoring, and clinical trials applications, together with its immunotherapy programs.

    Healthcare firm Grifols operates three primary divisions: biosciences, clinical diagnostics, and hospital. The bioscience division is dedicated to the development and commercialization of plasma-derived protein therapeutics. Its diagnostics division is focused on developing products for laboratory analytics, including blood banks and transfusion centers. The hospital division is geared towards the provision of nonbiological hospital products.

    The firm is currently involved in clinical trials evaluating plasma derivatives in AD patients. Its approach combines hemapheresis with the administration of albumin and intravenous immunoglobulin at different time points. Grifols says clinical studies in Spain and the U.S. demonstrated the method can stabilize AD, and further trials are now ongoing. 

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