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AC Immune Extends Neurodegenerative Disease Research Collaboration with Penn

November 5, 2021

Switzerland-based AC Immune said it is extending its research partnership with the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania to study a pathological mechanism involved in certain conditions.

Photo: Andrea Pfeifer, CEO of AC Immune

The partnership is focused on studying the pathological mechanism of transactive response DNA binding protein 43 kDa (TDP-43) misfolding, aggregation, and cell-to-cell transmission.

The first two years of the collaboration between AC Immune and Penn demonstrated that TDP-43 aggregates from the brains of donors with different TDP-43 proteinopathies have distinct seeding and spreading capacity in vivo. The proteinopathies studied included amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and different subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration-TDP (FTLD-TDP). These results confirm the existence of distinct pathogenic TDP-43 species and have been published in Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology.

In extending the collaboration with Penn, AC Immune said it hopes to gain a better understanding of the role of these distinct pathogenic TDP-43 species in the different TDP-43 proteinopathies. Through the development of novel experimental models, AC Immune and Penn hope to unravel the underlying mechanisms of cell-to-cell transmission of TDP-43 pathology that could provide new therapeutic strategies to target TDP-43-related proteinopathies.

“TDP-43 pathology is strongly associated with cognitive decline and episodic memory loss in neurodegenerative diseases, such as FTLD and ALS, and also plays an important role in Alzheimer’s disease,” said Virginia Lee, director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at the University of Pennsylvania. Our collaboration with AC Immune shows why industry sponsorship of academic research is vital for funding studies to advance our understanding into such an important target as TDP-43.”

AC Immune has a lead anti-TDP-43 antibody in preclinical development, which has been shown to significantly reduce levels of the pathological form of TDP-43 in the brain and conferred neuroprotection in murine neurodegenerative disease models. The company is also developing a first-in-class TDP-43 positron emission tomography (PET) tracer.

“Our work has led to a better understanding of TDP-43 pathologies, which supports ACoImmune’s aim as we advance one of the industry’s broadest and most diversified pipelines with novel therapeutic and diagnostic approaches against neurodegenerative diseases,” said Andrea Pfeifer, CEO of AC Immune.

Author: Rare Daily Staff

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