Merck and Bionomics announced earlier this week that the companies have signed into a new, exclusive Research Collaboration and License Agreement for its BNC375 research program centered around treating the cognitive dysfunction related to Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions of the central nervous system.
BNC375 is a key compound from Bionomics, which was licensed to Merck under the latest agreement between the two companies. BNC375 and other related compounds have demonstrated efficacy in treating animal models of cognitive impairment.
Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will be responsible for funding all research and development, including clinical development. The company will also lead the global marketing of any resulting product from the partnership. Merck will make an upfront payment to Bionomics totaling $506 million once certain research and clinical development milestones have been reached. Bionomics will also receive royalties on product sales, the amount of which was undisclosed by either company.
Dr Deborah Rathjen, CEO & Managing Director of Bionomics, said, “We are very excited to work with Merck to progress new therapies for cognitive impairment in conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. We believe that the combination of Bionomics’ innovative approach and technologies, within its ionX platform, has the potential to rapidly advance new treatments.”
The new agreement is Bionomics’ second collaboration with Merck. The two companies’ began their relationship in July 2013 when Bionomics entered into an option and license agreement with Merck for the discovery and development of novel small molecule candidates for the treatment of chronic pain including neuropathic pain.
“Merck is pleased to add a new scientific collaboration with Bionomics. Bionomics’ capabilities and overall expertise in discovery and characterization of small molecules for this neuroscience target class is impressive,” said Dr Rupert Vessey, head of Early Development and Discovery Sciences at Merck Research Laboratories.
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. The disease is the most common type of dementia and is thought to result from damage to nerve cells. According to the Alzheimer’s is projected to affect 7.1 million of patients age 65 and older by 2025.