Cerecor Acquires Rights to Merck COMT Inhibitors
BALTIMORE, March 20, 2013
BALTIMORE, March 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --Cerecor Inc, a neuroscience biotech
company that develops therapies that have the potential to make a difference
in diseases with high unmet medical needs, today announced that it has
acquired exclusive, worldwide rights to develop, register and commercialize
agents that inhibit catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitors ("COMT
inhibitors"), previously discovered and owned by Merck, known as MSD outside
the United States and Canada.
(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120411/PH85852LOGO )
COMT is an enzyme that breaks down dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a
key role in higher brain functions such as motivation, cognition and emotion.
Drugs that inhibit COMT have been used to treat patients with Parkinson's
disease; however, they have poor brain penetration and limited safety and
tolerability. COMT inhibition also has broad potential applicability in
other CNS diseases, such as addictive behaviors and schizophrenia, by
specifically increasing dopamine levels in areas of the brain affected by
these conditions. While the development of schizophrenia drugs to date has
focused on reducing psychosis, improvement in functional outcome has been
largely unattainable because current drugs do not have clinically significant
impact on the "negative symptoms" and cognitive impairment of the disease.
Drugs that inhibit COMT improve working memory and other measures of cognitive
function in animals and in clinical studies (normal subjects and in
"Merck has developed an innovative COMT platform that has addressed the
toxicity associated with existing COMT drugs. By accessing this platform,
Cerecor broadens its cognition pipeline, which also includes DAAO inhibitors.
This enhances our leadership in neuropsychiatric drug development," stated Dr.
Reza Mazhari, Cerecor's VP of Drug Discovery and Development.
Under the terms of the agreement, Cerecor will evaluate more than 2,000
molecules and select lead candidates for clinical development. Consideration
includes milestone payments and royalties consistent with other preclinical
licenses in neuroscience. Cerecor anticipates completing the technology
transfer activities in 2013.
"Adding COMT inhibitors to our drug development portfolio enhances our
mission. Cerecor continues to focus on targets or technologies that have
demonstrated human proof of concept, and for which biomarkers could be used to
steer early clinical development. We are delighted that Merck has chosen
Cerecor to help realize the value of such an innovative body of work as
contained within their COMT patent portfolio," added Dr. Blake Paterson,
Cerecor's co-founder and CEO.
"Cerecor's approach to the development of safe and effective therapies,
combined with its experienced management team, makes themideally suited to
help advance this platform targeted for the treatment of CNS diseases," said
Dr. Richard Hargreaves, Vice President, Worldwide Head of Basic Research,
Neuroscience, Merck Research Laboratories.
Cerecor Inc is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery,
development and commercialization of prescription pharmaceuticals whose
primary activity is in the human nervous system. We are a Delaware
corporation, based in Baltimore and co-founded in April 2011 by Drs. Solomon
Snyder, Barbara Slusher, Blake Paterson and Mr. Isaac Blech. Cerecor is
focused on translational medicine – the accelerated transfer of technology
from the laboratory to early human trials, with the mission of commercializing
therapeutics that make a difference.
SOURCE Cerecor Inc
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