Swiss company Addex Pharmaceuticals has entered into a license agreement with the US-based firm Merck to develop treatments for Parkinson’s disease.
The pair plan to create a new class of oral drugs for the condition, and they hope the research may also uncover cures for other illnesses.
Under the terms of the deal, Addex will receive $3m (£1.45m) upfront and is eligible for up to $106.5m (£51.5m) in research, development and regulatory milestone payments. Further payments may also be made if additional drugs attain regulatory approval.
The deal centres on the formulation of positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) targeting the metabotropic glutamate receptor 4 (mGluR4).
Vincent Mutel, CEO of Addex, said: “We are proud to have established this collaboration with Merck because their researchers have helped to define the therapeutic potential of targeting mGluR4 to treat Parkinson’s disease.
“This is another important validation of our leadership in allosteric modulation.”
Current Parkinson’s disease treatments focus on dopamine-replacement strategies, but most patients reach a stage where these are no longer effective.
There can also be debilitating side-effects, and many patients limit doses so their symptoms are less problematic.
But recent surgical advances suggest that bypassing the dopamine system may provide more effective treatments. It is believed that selective activation of mGluR4 is one way to do this, and could correct the circuitry that modulates motor excitability.
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