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Merck Serono/ Domain Parkinson's deal

Merck Serono and Domain Therapeutics are to partner in a deal to develop drugs to target neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's

Merck Serono - Merck's biopharmaceutical division - and Domain Therapeutics are to partner in a deal to develop drugs to target neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease.

The agreement will see France-based biopharmaceutical company, Domain, offer Merck access to a portfolio of optimised investigational compounds. In return, Domain will receive €2m in an upfront payment, with up to €132m available in milestone payments for the first two products to be developed.

The compounds to be developed are positive allosteric modulators for metabotropic glutamate receptor 4 (mGluR4). Glutamate receptors are a member of the G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) family, a group of proteins which transmit signals into cells, and are seen as therapeutic targets for Parkinson's disease.

"We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Domain Therapeutics, which has developed great expertise in the GPCR area," said Bernhard Kirschbaum, executive vice president for global research and development at Merck Serono. "This partnership with Domain Therapeutics reflects our long-term commitment to develop new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases."

Pascal Neuville, CEO, Domain Therapeutics, said: "This agreement is a validation of Domain Therapeutics' business model of addressing difficult GPCRs and partnering compounds, with a significant deal, at an early stage of development."

17th January 2011

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