Teijin Pharma granted Merck exclusive global rights to develop, manufacture, and commercialize a preclinical-stage anti-tau antibody. Merck says the antibody candidate will complement its existing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) portfolio, which includes the late clinical-stage, small-molecule candidate verubecestat (MK-8931). Verubecestat inhibits beta-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1) and is currently undergoing evaluation in the Phase III APECS study in patients with prodromal AD.
Merck has also developed an early-clinical-stage tau ligand [18F]-MK-6240 as a potential positron emission tomography (PET) imaging agent for quantifying neurofibrillary tangles in AD patients. In January, the firm granted Cerveau Technologies global rights to develop and commercialize the imaging agent. The firms were conducting an open-label Phase I study, and Cerveau said it planned to start a Phase III clinical program during early 2018.
Teijin also retains an option to co-promote an approved product in Japan. “Securing alliances with leading industry partners is a key part of The Teijin Group strategy,” said Akihisa Nabeshima, president, Teijin Pharma. “Teijin Pharma believes that Merck’s strong neuroscience expertise makes it well suited to maximize the potential of this candidate.”