Takeda is wading deeper into Alzheimer’s disease research with a new preclinical collaboration announced Tuesday. The company will work with Treventis, a little-known private biotech from Toronto, on a small molecule program targeting the tau protein. Treventis CEO Christopher Barden tells Endpoints News the biotech is still working on selecting which drug candidate to move forward and will use Takeda’s help to make that choice. Takeda can then option it into further preclinical, and potentially clinical, studies.
“This collaboration with Takeda is to finalize that [selection] process,” Barden said. “I’m not in a position to necessarily project exactly when that’s going to happen. But it’s, I mean, it’s a little ways down the road still.”
Barden declined to comment on how much Treventis received upfront, but the company can get up to $372.5 million total, save for tiered royalties, should Takeda exercise its option.
The science behind the program deals with the early stages of tau misfolding, Barden added. A growing amount of scientific literature has identified how “seeds” of misfolded tau proteins eventually transform into the larger tangles associated with Alzheimer’s, he said, and Treventis’ program is designed to block the formation of these seeds.
If everything goes according to plan, an approved drug could be used “across the spectrum” of Alzheimer’s patients, Barden said.
Treventis must still finalize its lead optimization process, however, and right now the company has only pinpointed a class of compounds that shows promise. And Alzheimer’s is a notoriously difficult nut to crack, stopping some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in their tracks over decades of research.
For Takeda, the move comes less than a week after it ended discovery and preclinical work in AAV gene therapy, as well as research and preclinical work on rare hematology. Takeda did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Endpoints will update this story accordingly.
Takeda’s existing Alzheimer’s work includes a Phase I study for partner Denali Therapeutics’ DNL919.