AbbVie and Voyager Therapeutics have entered into an exclusive global strategic collaboration and option agreement to develop and commercialise vectorised antibodies for the potential treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

The deal means that Voyager is to receive $65m upfront with a potential of $245m more in preclinical and phase I option payments as well as potential development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments and royalties worth an additional $728m for each alpha-synuclein vectorised antibody compound.

Voyager’s vectorised antibody platform aims to circumvent the blood-brain barrier by delivering with a potential one-time intravenous dose the genes that encode for the production of therapeutic antibodies using its blood-brain barrier penetrant adeno-associated virus (AAV) capsids.

The approach ultimately means that there is a potential for much higher levels of therapeutic antibodies in the brain compared to current systemic administration of antibodies.

Andre Turenne, president and CEO of Voyager therapeutics, said: “Our scientific platform allows us to develop unique AAV gene therapies that are designed to knock down disease-causing gene expression, increase the expression of missing proteins or enable the expression of therapeutic antibodies through vectorization.

“We are excited to expand our efforts towards pathological species of alpha-synuclein given its role in the progression of disease, and AbbVie is the ideal partner to advance this new target and therapeutic modality.”

Today, Parkison’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder worldwide. A hallmark of Parkinson’s disease is the accumulation of misfolded alpha-synuclein that can eventually lead to the formation of protein deposits and progressive neurodegeneration.

Approaches to interfere with this process could potentially delay the progression of Parkinson’s disease and other synucleinopathies including Lewy Body Dementia and multiple system atrophy.