AC Immune will partner with the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS) to develop a new minimally invasive Tau diagnostic assay for early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

The research collaboration—whose value was not disclosed—is designed to combine AC Immune’s lab capabilities and expertise in the biology and pathology of Tau with NIHS’ multiplexed antibody technology platform.

NIHS’ antibody technology was developed by its Prometheus Laboratories subsidiary, and is being applied by the institute in Brain Health research, specifically in Alzheimer’s. According to the institute, the assay uses an antibody microarray-based platform that measures the expression and activation of target proteins in tissues, blood, and other fluids.

The partners said they intend to identify and validate a highly sensitive diagnostic assay for detecting Tau in human cerebrospinal fluid and blood plasma.

“Our overarching goal is to develop nutritional approaches and technologies that help people maintain or re-establish their cognitive vigor,” Prof. Emmanuel E. (Ed) Baetge, Ph.D., director of NIHS, said in a statement. “This collaboration agreement opens up exciting new possibilities in the quest to better understand and combat this debilitating disease.”

Added Prof. Andrea Pfeifer, Ph.D., CEO of AC Immune: “Early diagnosis of this critical global health problem is equally needed for the development of pharmaceutical as well as nutritional approaches.”

Dr. Pfeifer also said the collaboration with NIHS marks AC Immune’s fourth partnership involving the Tau protein. The company’s three other partnered programs targeting Tau include the Phase Ib vaccine ACI-35, co-developed with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Tau PET tracers co-developed with Piramal as an Alzheimer’s diagnostic agent; and preclinical Tau-antibodies co-developed with Roche’s Genentech.

AC Immune focuses on designing, discovering, and developing therapeutic and diagnostic products designed to prevent and modify neurodegenerative diseases caused by misfolding proteins. Founded in 2003, AC Immune has raised CHF 84 million ($86.5 million) from private investors.

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