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Alliance to support development of synthetic vaccine for Alzheimer’s


Montreal, QC – January 21, 2004 – Drug development company Neurochem says it is advancing its efforts to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by forging a strategic alliance with the National Research Council’s Institute for Biological Sciences’ Dr Harold J Jennings, a world leader in the development of innovative conjugated vaccines.

The company also says it has entered into a licensing agreement with biopharmaceutical company Praecis Pharmaceuticals, relating to certain Beta amyloid peptides for use in the development of a novel synthetic vaccine to prevent and treat AD.

Financial terms of the agreements were not disclosed but Neurochem says it will retain all future commercial rights in therapies it develops.

A preeminent researcher in the vaccine field, Dr Jennings has developed technology that can be used to produce innovative conjugated vaccines against meningitis A, B and C, or the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae. The vaccines for meningitis C and Haemophilus influenzae are currently on the market, preventing these diseases in millions of children in North America and Europe.

The partners will collaborate on discovering and assessing certain vaccine approaches in animal models, and work toward developing a specific vaccine using amyloid protein fragment conjugates. Preclinical and clinical development as well as future commercialization in the field of A-Beta-peptide-protein conjugates may also arise from the collaboration. Through the licensing agreement with Praecis, Neurochem is expanding its pool of intellectual property relating to specific A-Beta-derived peptide sequences.

Neurochem’s vaccine program targets a specific region of the A-Beta protein. This fragment, when made of D amino acids conjugated to a carrier, generates an immune response where antibodies recognize only the soluble form of the A-Beta protein. Preliminary experiments at Neurochem’s laboratories have shown that this type of conjugates protects mice as efficiently as the reported vaccine made with the full A-Beta protein.

Neurochem says that one advantage of its approach is that the antibodies do not recognize plaques and therefore could help circumvent the risk of developing brain inflammation as was seen with the full A-Beta protein vaccine. It also says its vaccine technology, teamed with Dr Jennings’ expertise, is expected to lead to the development of a safe vaccine protecting humans against Alzheimer’s disease.