Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck made an undisclosed milestone payment to biotech Ossianix Inc., after experiments showed that shark antibodies effectively shuttled potential drugs across the blood-brain barrier in mice.
The 2 companies established a research collaboration in 2014, focusing on technology development and the delivery of antibody-based therapies across the blood-brain barrier.
Ossianix said that it fuses a therapeutic protein to a shark variable new antigen receptor (VNAR) antibody, which then binds to the blood-brain barrier’s transferrin receptor. The therapeutic protein is carried across the barrier and can eventually bind to its drug target.
Drug developers have long struggled to get large-molecule medicines across the protective barrier. The approach is especially exciting for Lundbeck, which hopes to get drugs into the brain to fight neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Sharks are the most evolutionarily ancient animal species with an immune system similar to humans.
“Ossianix is delighted that Lundbeck, a global leader in neuroscience drug discovery and development, has recognized the potential of our blood-brain barrier delivery technology and taken a license for the development of a number of CNS products,” Ossianix CEO Frank Walsh said in prepared remarks. “Our technology platform is highly versatile and can deliver high levels of therapeutically relevant antibodies to the brain, providing a new approach to the treatment of neurologic disease.”
“Ossianix has generated a world leading platform for delivering antibodies and potentially other drug agents into the brain with significant potential to benefit patients with diseases in the central nervous system,” Lundbeck’s senior VP of global research Kim Andersen added.
Although the technology is still years away from hitting the market, Andersen pointed out it’s a step forward towards successfully delivering antibody-based medicines into the brain.
Materials from Reuters were used in this report.