Vancouver, BC & Winnipeg, MB – Biopharmaceutical company Cangene has signed a collaborative research agreement with the University of British Columbia (UBC) aimed at developing immune-based therapies for Alzheimer’s disease. Under the agreement, Cangene will develop the work of Dr Neil Cashman, scientific director of PrioNet Canada, Canada Research Chair in Neurodegeneration and Protein Misfolding at UBC and a scientist at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.
Dr Cashman’s work, supported by PrioNet (a Network of Centres of Excellence for research on prion disease and related neurodegenerative disorders), focuses on identifying and validating targets for treating various neurological diseases. Dr Cashman, along with other PrioNet researchers, recently discovered that they were able to specifically target a unique shape of amyloid beta “oligomers” – small aggregates (called “bad guys” by Dr Cashman) with a key role in the progression of Alzheimer’s – while sparing normal amyloid beta molecules.
“If we’re only attacking the bad guys without harming the normal molecules, then we have a basis for a safe immunotherapy infusion,” he says, adding that this approach has already been tested in the laboratory on cultured nerve cells with successful results. “PrioNet’s initial investment to support this research was integral to generating the scientific results needed to attract industry partners.”
Now, he adds, “Our partnership with Cangene will help move this technology forward.”
Cangene has initiated work with UBC on the target identified by Dr Cashman.
“We’re enthusiastic about this partnership with Dr Cashman, who is a leader in protein misfolding and neurodegenerative diseases,” says John Sedor, Cangene’s president and CEO. “The initial research results from Dr Cashman’s lab, while still at an early stage of development, show promise for development of a novel immunotherapy.”