Over the past two years, Intellect has established its position as a leader in tau immunotherapy using funds from our deal with ViroPharma to support new patent filings by the company, in-license new technologies and initiate an important collaboration with leading Alzheimer's research groups led by Dr. Frank LaFerla and Dr. Kim Green at the University of California, Irvine. Tau immunotherapy is rapidly gaining traction in the Alzheimer's field and has potential applications for many orphan indications as well, such as frontotemporal dementia. However, in contrast to other approaches that have targeted tangles, Intellect is targeting the earliest steps in tau pathology focused on two different pathogenic forms, a truncated form known as delta tau and an aggregated from known as oligomeric tau -- each of which occurs before filaments leading to tangle formation. Over the next several months we expect to generate important in vivo data in relation to the two monoclonal antibodies, TauC3 and TOC-1, that we acquired from Northwestern University under an exclusive license agreement.
Finally, we continue our development of our RECALL-VAX platform focusing on a bi-specific chimeric peptide vaccine approach that targets both Aβ and delta tau in a flu-shot like vaccine approach. Vaccines against multiple antigens have precedent so this is another approach for combination therapies. Disease-modification itself is becoming less attractive as an approach for treating Alzheimer's disease for two main reasons. First, as evidenced by the Phase 3 clinical trials results, patients who are symptomatic probably have disease that is too far advanced to benefit significantly from treatments that slow the degenerative process. Second, treating very early stage or presymptomatic patients will be extremely expensive and prove too costly a burden for healthcare systems. An article by scientists from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, published in the October issue of Current Alzheimer's Research, indicated the economic cost of treatment with a chronically and frequently administered disease-modifying drug would outweigh the cost of palliative care, including full-time nursing care of patients with advanced disease. This economic model leads one to conclude that a vaccination given on an annual or semi-annual basis may be the only economically feasible approach to prevent and manage Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, a vaccine such as RV03 being developed by Intellect Neurosciences offers a promising prophylactic approach that could potentially be administered to tens of millions of people around the world. Although still at an early stage, we are confident about our ability to produce a high value asset.
Q: Do you feel confident regarding Intellect's pipeline?
Dr. Daniel G. Chain: We are very confident in the science behind our pipeline, and are encouraged by the interest shown in our programs by several global pharmaceutical companies some of which have already signed confidentiality agreements. In addition, many independent papers have been published recently that support many of our hypotheses for the development of these assets. Further, we are beginning to see encouraging early stage results that we hope to share soon regarding each of our pipeline programs.
Q: What challenges do you face?
Dr. Daniel G. Chain: The biggest challenge is the funding needed to support our R&D activities and also to grow and maintain our substantial global patent portfolio, which is the heart of Intellect's business model. We need to dispel the skepticism that pervades among many stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry resulting from previous disappointments in the AD field, or at least separate ourselves from it.
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