Uppsala University and BioArctic receive a MSEK 5 grant

Uppsala University and BioArctic have received a MSEK 5 grant from Vinnova for a collaborative research project concerning reduced costs and improved safety in immunotherapy for brain diseases.

Vinnova (Sweden’s Innovation Agency) and Vetenskapsrådet (The Swedish Research Council) are managing a research program aimed at making Sweden a world leader in the development and production of biologic drugs. Eleven projects conducted in collaboration between the academy, the industry and health care providers have been selected for funding. This program was initiated by the Swedish government and is part of the national strategic life science collaboration initiative.

“We are very grateful for the grant for this important research project. The research, which we are conducting together with Uppsala University, aims to improve penetration of antibodies into the brain, with lower doses needed resulting in less side-effects and lower costs”, says Gunilla Osswald, CEO of BioArctic.

Clinical trials with monoclonal antibodies indicate that these drugs can be used in the near future for treating Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The development of antibodies is extremely costly, mainly due to the high production costs and the fact that only 0.1-0.2% of peripherally administered antibodies will pass into the brain. The research team at the Rudbeck Laboratory in Uppsala, Sweden, has recently in collaboration with BioArctic developed a strategy to increase brain uptake of antibodies via receptor mediated transcytosis across the blood-brain barrier. Monovalent binding to the transferrin receptor results in up to 100-fold increased antibody concentration in the brain. Hence, lower doses can be given to the patients, leading to reduced side effects and a lower cost for the drug. A novel platform is being developed for effective expression of bispecific antibodies. The effect of the bispecific antibodies will be evaluated by PET imaging in preclinical animal models. To BioArctic’s knowledge this is the most efficient brain shuttle described in preclinical species.

Reference: Hultqvist G, Syvänen S, Fang XT, Lannfelt L, Sehlin D. Bivalent brain shuttle increases antibody uptake by monovalent binding to the transferrin receptor. Theranostics, in press.