Celgene has secured a nonexclusive license to use Aprinoia Therapeutics’ lead candidate, the Phase I tau positron emission tomography (PET) imaging tracer APN-1607, to support patient selection and efficacy evaluation in its global clinical trials, Aprinoia said today, through a deal whose value was not disclosed.

APN-1607 is an [18F]-labeled tau PET imaging tracer that according to Aprinoia holds the potential to visualize tau pathology in diverse tauopathies, including mild cognitive impairment, dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease, corticobasal degeneration syndrome, and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). In 2017, Aprinoia was granted the FDA’s Orphan Drug designation for APN-1607 in PSP.

Aprinoia said it is offering collaborators access to APN-1607 by deploying it in leading academic medical centers globally, with the goal of helping its partners better understand the natural history of tau pathology in rare tauopathies as well as Alzheimer’s. Aprinoia is also applying the PET imaging tracer to drive its own tau therapeutic program as well.

“With APN-1607’s unique properties, we believe it can offer our partners a valuable tool to validate therapeutic candidates for diverse neurodegenerative disorders, including multiple tauopathies,” Aprinoia CEO Ming-Kuei Jang, PhD, said in a statement.

Celgene agreed to pay Aprinoia undisclosed annual license and usage fees.

Celgene’s collaboration with Aprinoia reflects the biotech giant’s continuing interest in strengthening its neurodegenerative pipeline by developing tau-targeting treatments against Alzheimer’s.

In March 2018, Celgene launched a potentially over-$2 billion collaboration with Prothena aimed at developing new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, by targeting tau and two other proteins linked to the disorders.

Tau has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease as well as in tauopathies that include progressive supranuclear palsy, frontotemporal dementia (FTD), and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Also in March 2018, Celgene included neurodegenerative diseases as well as cancer and inflammatory diseases as the focus of a collaboration with Vividion Therapeutics to which the biotech giant committed $101 million—$97 million in cash and a $4 million equity investment, according to Celgene’s Form 10-Q for Q3 2018. Vividion is a spinout of The Scripps Research Institute.

Drug developers have long struggled to create successful new treatments for Alzheimer’s. A 2014 Cleveland Clinic study found a 99.6% failure rate of clinical trials for Alzheimer’s drug candidates between 2002 and 2012. That study found high attrition rates for Alzheimer’s treatments, with 72% of agents failing in Phase I, 92% failing in Phase II, and 98% failing in Phase III.

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