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Could anti-tau immunotherapy treat neurodegenerative diseases?

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    A new research publication in Brain, co-authored by scientists from UCB and the University of Lille, looks at how antibodies could help to combat symptoms and potentially halt the degeneration of brain cells, seen in neurodegenerative diseases.

    Neurodegenerative diseases are associated with so-called ‘tau tangles’. Tau is a protein found in all brain tissue. In people with neurodegenerative diseases, tau proteins build up into tangles and are believed to interfere with normal brain function.

    UCB has been working with leading scientists at Inserm, the French National Institute of Health and Medical  Research, to study how anti-tau immunotherapy could improve the lives of people with these conditions. Their work, conducted in mice, has been published in a prestigious research journal. It evaluates two antibodies targeting tau proteins to determine their effects on disease onset and progression.
     
    The study found that one of the antibodies effectively blocked the onset of disease progression in mice by preventing the formation of tau tangles. The antibody also prevented the spread of pathologic tau proteins to other parts of the brain in mice, which is commonly associated with disease progression. The same effect was not seen in mice given the other antibody that was tested.  

    The paper is important because it shows not all anti-tau antibodies are equally effective and highlights a potential immunotherapy that warrants further research. The promising effects reinforce findings from previous invitro research, published last year in the prestigious journal Acta Neuropathologica, and further supports UCB’s commitment to moving ahead with clinical studies of its anti-tau immunotherapy candidate in humans.

    The path from pre-clinical research to the patient is long and challenging. However, if an anti-tau treatment were identified and tested in rigorous clinical studies, it could be significant for people with tau-related diseases.

    This field of immunotherapy, targeting extracellular tau protein, is a new and promising therapeutic approach that we are committed to pursuing in the years ahead. We are excited by the possibilities that lie ahead and look forward to sharing news of further developments.

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