Twenty years ago, Prof. Lars Lannfelt of Uppsala University discovered Alzheimer’s disease is inherited. Families carry the Arctic mutation which forms an aggregated and toxic form of beta-amyloid called protofibrils, believed to cause Alzheimer’s disease. Protofibrils might be useful targets for therapy, since they are soluble and possibly more accessible.
In the search for financing, CEO Pär Gellerfors from BioArctic Neuroscience turned to his contacts from his previous position at Pharmacia. The network led him to the Japanese company Eisai, which markets Aricept for Alzheimer’s disease. Prof. Lars Lannfelt’s research was well recognized, and led to a licensing deal with Eisai. The research could begin, and the advantages of remaining in Uppsala were clear.
“The city’s history of pharmaceutical R&D gives us plenty of talented researchers to choose from”, says Pär Gellerfors. “The close proximity to patients is also vital for progress”. Phase 1 studies of BioArctic’s monoclonal antibody BAN2401 began in 2010.
There are plenty of opportunities like BioArctic yet to be discovered.