Roche Bets Big on Parkinson's, Alzheimer's Programs

Sep.12.10 | About: Roche Holding (RHHBY)

By Michael Fitzhugh

Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY) will invest as much as $635 million (€500 million) in two of reMynd’s pre-clinical programs that are intended to slow the progression of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

“Our most advanced compound in Parkinson’s disease has demonstrated full inhibition of disease progression in pre-clinical models,” says Gerard Griffioen, CSO of the Belgium company.

Roche and reMynd will form joint teams to move the compounds into clinical development and eventually into global markets, with Roche footing the bill. Roche will also contribute its chemistry and lead-optimization expertise to the collaboration while reMynd seeks to uncover the underlying molecular mechanisms of its medicines, which it believes can slow down neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s patients by inhibiting the toxicity of certain proteins.

If the treatments are approved and marketed, reMynd stands to capture additional payments and royalties on resulting net sales of the medicines, “potentially reaching a double-digit level,” it says.

Still, for both diseases, there remains a yawning gap between that possibility and overcoming the hurdles to developing an effective drug to treat the disease.

Lilly (NYSE:LLY) ran into major disappointment in August when semagacestat, its most promising experimental Alzheimer's compound, turned out to be worse for patients’ cognitive well-being than a placebo.

In Parkinson's, Biogen (NASDAQ:BIIB) dropped a six-year old co-development agreement with Vernalis in July when adverse side effects popped up in a review of pre-clinical data on vipadenant. Acadia Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ACAD) and Biovail (BVF) met disappointment in September 2009 when their Pimavanserin program failed to meet its primary endpoint in as study of patients with Parkinson’s disease psychosis. The company redesigned and re-initiated the study in July.