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Agreement to develop depression treatment

Marco Polo Pharmaceuticals and Biocortech are to develop BC-19 in treatment-resistant depression

Luxembourg-based Marco Polo Pharmaceuticals, has entered into a licensing agreement with French diagnostics company, Biocortech, to develop BC-19 in treatment-resistant depression. Under the terms of the agreement, Marco Polo takes responsibility for all further clinical development of BC-19 and for eventual commercialisation or outlicensing to a suitable partner.

BC-19 is an eburnamine derivative, previously investigated for the indications of cerebral insufficiency and cognitive deficits. As an antidepressant, it showed benefits when administered to patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression.

Moreover, BC19 offers the possibility of disease modification by restoring the function of deficient noradrenergic pathways, which terminate in the prefrontal cortex.

"It is a great accomplishment for our company to announce a licensing agreement of this kind," said Prof Mondher Toumi, CEO of Marco Polo Pharmaceuticals.

The company's chief medical officer, Dr Aleksandar Bakhutshuili, added: "There is a major unmet need in resistant and melancholic depression, and we believe that this compound will help those who suffer from this disease. Our team looks forward to further developing BC-19 in these indications."

"This agreement, which is aligned with our strategic shift toward biomarkers, is a great opportunity to move BC-19 development forward and to bring a novel class of promising compounds to patients," said Dr Dinah Weissmann, CEO of Biocortech.

Treatment-resistant depression is a common manifestation of major depressive disorder, where patients do not respond to adequate courses of at least two different antidepressants. It is estimated that 10-30 per cent of cases are either partially or totally resistant to antidepressant therapy.

Marco Polo Pharmaceuticals is a drug repositioning company that identifies, acquires and develops promising drug candidates in new indications or markets. It focuses on major central nervous system diseases.

Biocortech is a biopharmaceutical company working to discover and develop novel biomarkers for psychiatric disorders.

6th April 2010

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