AbbVie has made a significant move in the field of Parkinson’s disease by acquiring Mitokinin for an upfront payment of $110 million, along with the potential for additional milestone payments totaling $545 million to the biotech’s existing shareholders. This acquisition follows a purchase agreement established in March 2021 when the two companies collaborated on Mitokinin’s compound, a PINK1 activator designed to address mitochondrial dysfunction, upon completion of IND-enabling studies.
Mitokinin characterizes PINK1 as a “surveillance system” for damaged mitochondria, the cellular powerhouses. By activating this receptor, the theory suggests that the body can enhance the removal of dysfunctional mitochondria while rejuvenating healthy ones, potentially mitigating inflammation associated with neurodegenerative diseases.
While limited information is available about the preclinical data for this asset, Mitokinin’s Chief Scientific Officer, Nicholas Hertz, Ph.D., noted that it selectively enhances the active form of PINK1 specific to damaged mitochondria without broadly affecting PINK1 regulation.
Founded in 2013 at UCSF by Nicholas Hertz and Kevan Shokat, Ph.D., Mitokinin has not disclosed its financing history but has received support from backers like Mission BioCapital, Pfizer Ventures, and Samambaia Investments.
AbbVie’s interest in Parkinson’s disease is evident, as it actively shapes its neuroscience pipeline. The company encountered recent setbacks, including the rejection of a subcutaneous combination of carbidopa and levodopa as a treatment for advanced Parkinson’s motor fluctuations. Additionally, AbbVie ended collaborations with Voyager and BioArctic, both focusing on Parkinson’s medications.
“Parkinson’s disease continues to be a major unmet medical need, impacting patients, caregivers and society. With this acquisition, we are excited to grow our neuroscience portfolio and explore a potential new treatment option for PD. While current PD treatments may alleviate the symptoms of parkinsonism, there are currently no available therapies that prevent progression of the disease. Targeting PINK1 offers a novel approach that may alter disease pathogenesis.”
– Jonathon Sedgwick, Ph.D., vice president and global head of discovery research, AbbVie
However, the company expanded its collaboration with Mission Therapeutics in August 2021, securing two preclinical candidates, one of which targets Parkinson’s disease. Now, AbbVie has invested nine digits in the acquisition of Mitokinin, demonstrating its commitment to advancing treatments for Parkinson’s and related conditions.