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Billionaire backs new program for a pioneering Alzheimer’s vaccine from AC Immune

German billionaire Dietmar Hopp is adding to his multimillion-dollar wager on AC Immune, the Swiss biotech that is playing a key role in some high-profile Alzheimer’s programs. Hopp has been the primary investor behind the company, and today he joined in a $22 million D round designed to fund a new therapeutic vaccine program aimed at the memory-wasting disease.

AC Immune isn’t built like most biotechs. CEO Andrea Pfeifer has arranged some lucrative partnerships with Genentech, which most notably is pursuing a high-profile mid-stage program for crenezumab, an antibody discovered by the Swiss biotech. That antibody is designed to work on amyloid beta, a toxic protein that is implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

That partnership money has helped fuel the company’s basic research work, while this new injection of cash is specifically earmarked for the clinical development of another antibody that AC Immune has discovered and successfully tested in animals. This new therapy targets tau, the other tangle in the brain that has also been implicated as a trigger for Alzheimer’s. AC Immune has now raised a total of $88 million in venture funds, with hundreds of millions more involved in its pacts. Hopp, an active biotech investor, has been one of the company’s biggest backers.

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