Merck forges Alzheimer’s pact with Cerevance

Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) could pay more than $1 billion to the Boston-based biotech startup Cerevance to develop potential drugs for Alzheimer’s disease.

The collaboration will center around Cerevance’s Nuclear Enriched Transcript Sort sequencing (NETSseq) technology platform.

The platform’s origins trace back to research at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Under the terms of the deal with Merck, Cerevance will license its preclinical Alzheimer’s drug program to Merck.

Merck will now pay Cerevance $25 million and could pay an additional $1.1 billion in milestone-based payments plus potential royalties.

Although there are a handful of FDA-approved drugs for Alzheimer’s, most focus on treating the symptoms rather than the cause of the condition.

One exception is Biogen’s aducanumab, which reduces amyloid deposits in the brain. It is not yet clear, however, if the drug has a cognitive benefit for patients.

Conversely, Cerev…

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