FILE PHOTO: The company logo for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo/File Photo

AstraZeneca Plc has agreed to develop an antibody-based therapy with Swiss biotechnology firm Neurimmune for a rare, underdiagnosed condition that can lead to heart failure in a deal valued up to $760 million, the drugmaker said on Tuesday (March 1).

AstraZeneca’s rare diseases unit Alexion and Neurimmune — the firm behind the discovery of Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab — will work on evaluating a monoclonal antibody for the treatment of transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy.

The potentially fatal condition is characterised by deposits of proteins called amyloid fibrils in the walls of the heart which causes them to become stiff and result in the organ being unable to pump and circulate blood effectively.

Under the agreement, Alexion would pay Neurimmune an upfront payment of $30 million and it would be eligible for payments of up to $730 million upon completion of some targets, plus royalties on sales, AstraZeneca said in a statement.

Neurimmune’s candidate, NI006, belongs to a class of therapies called monoclonal antibodies which are lab-generated compounds mimicking the body’s natural defences. NI006 targets the protein deposits and breaks them down.

Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca, which made a $39 billion bet on Alexion’s rare diseases portfolio in 2020, has had major success with monoclonal antibodies in recent times with its Evusheld treatment for Covid-19.

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