Pharmaceutical giant GSK, under pressure from activist investor Elliott, has unveiled a deal worth up to $2.2 billion with US firm Alector to develop new potential drugs for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Britain’s GSK and San Francisco-based Alector will collaborate on the medicines belonging to a field of research known as ‘immuno-neurology’ which aims to harness the body’s own immune system to beat neurodegenerative disease.
The announcement comes as GSK’s embattled chief executive Emma Walmsley faces mounting pressure from investors over strategy. Today GSK declared its full-throated support for chief executive Emma Walmsley.
New York hedge fund Elliott has called for a management shake-up before the demerger of GSK’s consumer healthcare division next year, citing “years of disappointing performance”.
GSK will pay Alector $700 million upfront to develop the drugs, which are still in clinical trials, plus $1.5 billion in potential future milestone payments.
Dr Hal Barron, chief scientific officer and president R&D, GSK, said: “Our focus on human genetics and the science of the immune system gives us unique insights into the potential of targets such as progranulin to help patients with a number of neurodegenerative diseases. Working with Alector’s world class scientists will allow us to investigate the potential of these immuno-neurology therapies to help patients with frontotemporal dementia, a devastating disease without any currently approved treatments, as well as explore the ability to help patients with other neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.”