Biogen to Develop Novel Alzheimer's Disease Drug

Experimental drug may treat tauopathies, such as Alzheimer’s disease and progressive supranuclear palsy.​

Biogen recently announced an agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb to purchase an experimental drug for neurological conditions, BMS-986168. The drug is ready to advance to phase 2 clinical trials for both Alzheimer’s disease and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), according to a press release.

BMS-986168 is an antibody that targets extracellular tau, which tangles in the brain and leads to cognitive decline, as seen in Alzheimer’s disease and other tauopathies, according to the release.

In certain disease states, tau aggregates in the brain and forms neurofibrillary tangles, which results in damage. Despite being involved with many disease states, there are currently no effective treatments to prevent toxic tau tangles.

Under the agreement, Biogen will receive the rights to BMS-986168 and be fully responsible for the development and commercialization of the drug in both conditions. Bristol-Myers Squibb will receive a payment of $300 million, and may receive an additional $410 million for milestone payments and royalties, according to the release.

Biogen will also be responsible for obligations related to the Bristol-Myers Squibb acquisition of iPierian in 2014, which may cost an additional $550 million in milestones and royalties.

Biogen intends to move BMS-986168 to phase 2 studies quickly for both conditions, according to the release.

PSP is a rare neurodegenerative brain disorder that affects 3 to 6 out of every 100,000 individuals. The tauopathy is characterized by problems with movement, gait, balance, speech, swallowing, vision, mood, behavior, and thinking, according to Biogen. While Alzheimer’s disease is much more common, the cognitive impairment, behavioral changes, and disability are similar.

With Alzheimer’s disease and PSP affecting millions of individuals, a novel drug to treat the tauopathies would be groundbreaking.

“Biogen aims to be a leader in Alzheimer’s disease and we are building a pipeline with multiple approaches to address the complex, devastating process of neurodegeneration,” said Michael Ehlers, executive vice president, research & development at Biogen. “Based on encouraging safety and efficacy data, we believe BMS-986168 is a promising anti-tau candidate that may represent the next wave of medicines for Alzheimer’s disease as well as the first real answer for progressive supranuclear palsy.”