Japan's Eisai buys rights to Alzheimer's antibody

TOKYO Mon Dec 3, 2007 10:28pm EST

TOKYO Dec 4 (Reuters) - Japanese drug maker Eisai Co Ltd (4523.T) said on Tuesday it bought the global rights to develop and market an antibody to treat Alzheimer's disease from Swedish firm BioArtic Neuroscience AB.

Eisai, which sells the market-leading Alzheimer's treatment Aricept, did not disclose financial terms for its purchase of the antibody BAN2401, which is in preclinical development.

BAN2401 is a humanised monoclonal antibody designed to attack the protofibrils, the precursor forms of the A-beta peptide, which is one component of the amyloid plaque that builds up in the brain and is thought to be responsible for damaging brain cells.

Alzheimer's, which destroys memory and eventually leads to death, has been a focus of research for years, but it is a tough disease to fight and there are so far no very effective treatments.

Drugs like Aricept, which is co-marketed with Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), only provide modest symptomatic relief. (Reporting by Edwina Gibbs)