Cerecor gains rights to potential depression treatment from Merck

MK-0657 is a small-molecule NMDA receptor subunit 2B antagonist initially developed by Merck for the treatment of Parkinson's disease

Jeffrey Bouley
BALTIMORE—Cerecor Inc., a neuroscience biotech company, has announced theacquisition of exclusive, worldwide rights to develop and commercialize MK-0657 from Merck & Co., known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. MK-0657 a small-molecule NMDA receptorsubunit 2B (NR2B) antagonist for all human indications, includingdepression.
Cerecor cites a "growing body of evidence" that supports ahypothesis of NMDA receptors being involved in the pathology ofdepression, "including reports in the literature of rapid improvement ofdepression following intravenous administration of ketamine, an NMDAantagonist." MK-0657 is a novel, potent and selective NR2B antagonist,initially developed by Merck for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.
"MK-0657is a potential first-in-class, best-in-class, oral medication that iscomplementary to existing treatments in depressed patients who havefailed to respond to available therapies. We are particularly interestedin the potential to rapidly reduce depressive symptoms, includingsuicidal ideation, in these severely affected patients," said Dr. James Vornov, Cerecor's senior vice president of clinical development and regulatory affairs.
Underthe terms of the agreement, Cerecor will immediately assume fulldevelopment and commercialization responsibilities of MK-0657. Licenseconsideration includes milestone payments and royalties "consistent withclinical stage licenses in neuroscience." Cerecor anticipates completingthe technology transfer activities by mid-2013 and thereafter initiatingclinical trials.
"We are delighted that Merck has chosen Cerecor to help realize the value of an innovative asset such as MK-0657," added Dr. Blake Paterson,Cerecor's co-founder and CEO. "Patients and families who have struggledwith severe refractory depression and suicidality easily recognize theneed for more effective treatments, and we will develop MK-0657 with thepurpose that befits such an important unmet need."
SOURCE: Cerecor news release

Jeffrey Bouley

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