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GlaxoSmithKline Plc agreed to pay San Francisco based biotech Alector Inc. as much as $2.2 billion to develop therapies targeting diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Neurodegenerative disease has been the subject of costly workers’ compensation claims in past years. The most notable of them was the NFL and contact sport related claims for concussion caused dementia.

The agreement comes weeks after the FDA approved the first new Alzheimer’s drug in almost two decades, Biogen Inc’s Aduhelm, reinvigorating the industry’s efforts to develop more treatments in a challenging therapy category.

The trategic global collaboration was formed for the development of two clinical-stage, potential first-in-class monoclonal antibodies (AL001 and AL101), which are targeting neurodegenerative disease.

AL001 is currently in a Phase 2 study in symptomatic frontotemporal dementia patients with a mutation in the C9orf72 gene and is planned to enter Phase 2 development for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the second half of 2021.

Enrolment is currently underway for a pivotal Phase 3 trial for AL001 in people at risk for or with frontotemporal dementia due to a progranulin gene mutation (FTD-GRN).

AL101 is in a Phase 1a clinical trial and is designed to treat patients suffering from more prevalent neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Frontotemporal dementia is a rapidly progressing and severe form of dementia found most frequently in people less than 65 years old at the time of diagnosis. It affects 50,000 to 60,000 people in the United States and roughly 110,000 in the European Union, with potentially higher prevalence in Asia and Latin America.

There are currently no FDA-approved treatment options for frontotemporal dementia.

The therapies are part of an emerging field of research that tries to use the body’s own immune system to fight neurodegenerative diseases. In this case, scientists are seeking to increase levels of a protein in the brain called progranulin, which helps regulate the immune response and affects the survival of neurons.

Under the terms of the collaboration agreement, Alector will receive $700 million in upfront payments. In addition, Alector will be eligible to receive up to an additional $1.5 billion in clinical development, regulatory and commercial launch-related milestone payments.

Alector will lead the global clinical development of AL001 and AL101 through Phase 2 proof-of-concept. Thereafter, Alector and GSK will share development responsibilities for all late-stage clinical studies for AL001 and AL101 and all costs for global development will be divided between the two companies.