Pharma giant AbbVie has moved to enhance its neuroscience pipeline by exercising its exclusive right to acquire Mitokinin, a biotechnology company working on a novel treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Mitokinin’s lead compound, a selective PINK1 activator, is designed to target mitochondrial dysfunction, which is considered to be a key factor in both the development and progression of Parkinson’s.
As part of the acquisition agreement, AbbVie will make an initial payment of $110 million to Mitokinin shareholders upon closing. Shareholders stand to receive additional payments of up to $545 million, contingent on the achievement of specific development and commercial milestones related to the success of the PINK1 program.
“While current PD treatments may alleviate the symptoms of parkinsonism, there are currently no available therapies that prevent progression of the disease,” said Dr Jonathon Sedgwick, global head of discovery research at AbbVie. “Targeting PINK1 offers a novel approach that may alter disease pathogenesis.”
“Collaboration with AbbVie’s world-class neuroscience and external innovation teams added significant value and resources to help accelerate the program to investigational new drug enabling studies,” said Daniel de Roulet, CEO of Mitokinin.
Founded in 2013, Mitokinin is built on technology originating from the work of its scientific co-founders, Nicholas Hertz and Kevan Shokat at the University of California, San Francisco. The company is backed by investors including Mission BioCapital, Pfizer Ventures, and Samambaia Investments.
The role of PINK1 in mitigating mitochondrial dysfunction has long been acknowledged by the scientific community. Nonetheless, the development of brain-penetrating PINK1 activators tailored for therapeutic use in Parkinson’s has presented a formidable challenge.
PINK1 plays a key role in maintaining the health of the mitochondrial system, aiding in the removal of dysfunctional mitochondria. Mutations in the PINK1 gene are associated with the familial forms of Parkinson’s, which result from a loss of PINK1 function. Mitokinin says that the potential therapeutic application of PINK1 activation also extends beyond familial Parkinson’s, and that its therapy may also modify the course of sporadic Parkinson’s cases.
“Our pre-clinical data demonstrate that our PINK1 activator compound can selectively enhance the active-form of PINK1, which is found on damaged mitochondria, without impacting PINK-1 regulation broadly,” said Hertz.