AC Immune has published data on its alpha-synuclein (a-syn) positron emission tomography (PET) tracer, ACI-12589, which showed the compound’s ability to identify patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA).

The data from the clinical trial was published in Nature Communications journal on 27 October.

MSA is a rare condition of the nervous system that causes gradual damage to nerve cells in the brain. It occurs due to misfolding and accumulation of the protein α-synuclein in oligodendrocytes, myelinating cells of the central nervous system.

The clinical trial enrolled a total of 42 participants, 23 of which had α-synuclein-related disorders. In addition, 11 participants had other neurodegenerative disorders while the remaining eight were controls.

The ACI-12589 tracer bound to regions known to be highly affected by α-synuclein pathology, cerebellar white matter and middle cerebellar peduncles, in MSA patients making them easier to identify. Although ACI-12589 binding statistically separates MSA patients from healthy controls and subjects with other neurodegenerative disorders, it showed limited binding in Parkinson’s disease, also an α-synuclein disorder.

“Accurately detecting a-syn in the living brains of patients is paramount, particularly in view of the challenges of diagnosing the serious diseases related to pathological a-synuclein aggregates,” said AC’s chief scientific officer Dr Marie Kosco-Vilbois in the press release.

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“We are encouraged by this first success in MSA and look forward to expanding the potential clinical applications of this tracer, and others emerging from the AC Immune platform.”

The ACI-12589 development program previously received $0.5m in funding from the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in September 2022.

The diagnostic imaging market is expected to grow to be worth $45bn in 2030, as per the GlobalData market model.

GlobalData is the parent company of Clinical Trials Arena.

Other diagnostic agents in AC’s portfolio that are currently in development include Tau PET Diagnostic PI-2620, which is currently being evaluated in a Phase III trial (NCT05641688). The agent was developed in partnership with Life Molecular Imaging.

The Switzerland-based company is also developing therapeutic drugs such as anti-amyloid beta (Abeta) active immunotherapy (vaccine)-candidate, ACI-24.060, for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The drug received a fast track designation from the US Food and Drug Administration and is currently in Phase Ib/II trial (NCT05462106).