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Biogen Idec, Proteostasis forge neurodegenerative pact

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Alzheimer’s disease, and some of its neurodegenerative cousins, came under fire from a new direction as Proteostasis Therapeutics Inc. this month brought in the R&D and clinical firepower of fellow Cambridge-based company Biogen Idec. in a worldwide collaboration agreement.
The deal combines Proteostasis Therapeutics’ proprietary scientific platform and preclinical work on protein degradation with Biogen Idec’s neurodegenerative disease research and clinical development capabilities, with a plan to research and develop therapeutic candidates based on the inhibition of Usp14.
Proteostasis will receive an initial upfront payment from Biogen Idec, along with an equity investment, and is eligible for research funding support and future development and commercial milestones. This could mean total payments of as much as $200 million, plus tiered royalties if one or more products enters the market. Under the agreement, the companies will conduct preclinical research to identify lead compounds for clinical development. At specified points in development, Proteostasis will have the option to receive potential milestones or opt in for global co-development and U.S. co-commercialization rights.
Proteostasis develops novel therapeutics that regulate protein homeostasis, with an eye toward helping to improve outcomes for patients with orphan and neurodegenerative diseases. According to the company, preclinical research has shown that the inhibition of Usp14, a deubiquitinating enzyme, modulates proteasome activity and increases the degradation rate of aggregation-prone proteins, including a-synuclein in Parkinson’s disease and tau in Alzheimer’s disease. The collaboration is intended to develop Usp14 inhibitors as a disease-modifying approach for a wide range of disorders involving toxic protein aggregation.