Image from Wyss Institute
Lundbeck and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University initiates a collaboration to the testing of antibodies and characterization of how antibodies cross the blood-brain-barrier. This will be explored by using an artificial blood-brain-barrier model developed from human stem cells.
The blood-brain-barrier is a network of blood vessels surrounding the brain, securing that no unwanted substances enter the brain. Normally, this is a security mechanism, but when treating brain diseases, the blood-brain-barrier makes it more difficult to get drugs into the brain where they need to have a therapeutic effect. This is especially problematic in the case with antibodies, since these are big molecules of which less than 1% naturally reach the brain. Therefore, antibodies are given in higher dosages, which results in increased cost of treatments and make it more difficult to develop antibodies to treat brain diseases.
“We are happy to enter this partnership with the Wyss Institute and gain access to a more efficient way to test and develop compounds that efficiently can cross the blood-brain-barrier and further contribute to characterizing the fundamental rules required to treat brain diseases with antibodies,” says Allan Jensen, Vice President Biotherapeutic Discovery.
In the project, which is pre-competitive, the partners will test antibodies to clarify the general rules on how to enhance delivery of antibodies to the brain. This will in the future potentially enable Lundbeck to develop new treatments faster and reducing the risk for failure.
“The blood-brain-barrier is always a challenge when working with brain diseases. If we cannot get the medicines into the brain, there will of course be no effect. Today, we assess if a molecule enters the brain by testing on mice, but this artificial blood-brain-barrier may allow us to jump several steps ahead in all of our antibody discovery projects,” says Allan Jensen, who concludes about the partnership: “It increases our knowledge and reduces the risks in our research and development.”
The artificial blood-brain-barrier, that Lundbeck will gain access to through the collaboration, was developed by Wyss Institute.
In an article about their technology1, they describe how some receptors have shown to transport some types of proteins across the blood-brain-barrier, known as transcytosis. Some antibodies can bind these receptors. If Wyss Institute and Lundbeck can explore how these bindings work, it would be a major milestone in the understanding of the blood-brain-barrier.