Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS) is teaming up with the Swiss AC Immune to develop a new minimally invasive Tau diagnostic assay for early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease has a new case every three seconds, totaling up to 9.9 million new cases of dementia every year.
To combat this, AC Immune will offer Nestlé its expertise in biology and pathology of the Tau protein (abundantly found within the central nervous system) with its laboratory capacity to support the research program. The NIHS will provide its technology platform for antibody detection, in order to identify and validate an in vitro diagnostic test for the highly sensitive detection of the tau protein in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood plasma.
In Alzheimer’s, hyperphosphorylation of normal Tau protein within neuronal cells disrupts the proteins function, leading to the creation of microtubule ‘tangles’. These tau-protein tangles slow neuronal transmission and drives the degenerative tissue damage seen in this disease (for a more in depth visual explanation of Tau in Alzheimer’s, see this poster from Nature).
Actually, this is the fourth partnership for AC Immune in the Alzheimer’s field. Indeed, Tau protein has already been used to develop diagnostic methods and therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases. The company’s three other partnered programs targeting Tau include the Phase Ib vaccine ACI-35, co-developed with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Tau PET tracers co-developed with Piramal as an Alzheimer’s diagnostic agent; and pre-clinical Tau-antibodies co-developed with Roche’s Genentech. Moreover, AC Immune has already raised €86.5M from private investors.
This collaboration is very promising when we know that in 2015, globally there are already 44 million people with Alzheimer’s. Early diagnosis of this relentless disease is therefore needed for the development of pharmaceutical and dietary treatments.