GENEVA, Switzerland, March 31, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, announced today that Merck KGaA has entered into an agreement that broadens the scope of the collaboration with Newron Pharmaceuticals S.p.A. ("Newron"), Milan, Italy. The two companies are already collaborating on the development of safinamide in Parkinson's disease.
Under the terms of the agreement, Newron will receive a development license for two Merck clinical-stage compounds, pruvanserin and sarizotan. Merck will retain buy-back options for each compound upon completion of proof of concept trials. Should these options be exercised by Merck, Newron will have a co-development option. No further financial terms are disclosed.
Pruvanserin and sarizotan are highly selective compounds for specific serotonin or dopamine receptors and modulate the activity of these neurotransmitters in the brain. Both compounds exhibit pharmacological properties and have clinical data that support further evaluation and development. Newron will assess the potential of these compounds in additional preclinical experiments prior to initiating proof of concept studies in central nervous system (CNS) diseases.
"We are very pleased to continue building our relationship with Newron," said Dr. Bernhard Kirschbaum, Executive Vice President for Global Research and Development at Merck Serono. "We believe that this expanded collaboration will leverage Newron's strong expertise in the early-stage development of compounds targeting CNS indications."
Dr. Ravi Anand, Newron's Chief Medical Officer, stated: "This agreement is an excellent opportunity for Newron to expand its development pipeline with innovative compounds within Newron's field of expertise."
About Merck Serono
Merck Serono is the biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a global pharmaceutical and chemical company. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, Merck Serono discovers, develops, manufactures and markets prescription medicines of both chemical and biological origin in specialist indications. In the United States and Canada, EMD Serono operates as a separately incorporated affiliate of Merck Serono.
Merck Serono has leading brands serving patients with cancer (Erbitux(R), cetuximab), multiple sclerosis (Rebif(R), interferon beta-1a), infertility (Gonal-f(R), follitropin alfa), endocrine and metabolic disorders (Saizen(R) and Serostim(R), somatropin), (Kuvan(R), sapropterin dihydrochloride), (Egrifta(TM), tesamorelin), as well as cardiometabolic diseases (Glucophage(R), metformin), (Concor(R), bisoprolol), (Euthyrox(R), levothyroxine). Not all products are available in all markets.
With an annual R&D expenditure of over EUR 1bn, Merck Serono is committed to growing its business in specialist-focused therapeutic areas including neurodegenerative diseases, oncology, fertility and endocrinology, as well as new areas potentially arising out of research and development in rheumatology.
Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total revenues of EUR 9.3 billion in 2010, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by more than 40,000 employees in 67 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and free shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.
For more information, please visit http://www.merckserono.com or http://www.merck.de
About Newron Pharmaceuticals
Newron Pharmaceuticals S.p.A. (www.newron.com) is a biopharmaceutical company focused on novel therapies for diseases of the Central Nervous System and pain. Phase III trials of safinamide are currently ongoing for the treatment of Parkinson's disease (PD). As per the agreement signed with Newron in 2006, Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has exclusive worldwide rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize the compound in PD, Alzheimer's disease, and other therapeutic applications. Newron is currently evaluating the further clinical development of ralfinamide for pain and psychiatric diseases. Newron's additional projects are at various stages of preclinical and clinical development, including HF0220 for neuroprotection and NW-3509 for the treatment of schizophrenia. Newron is headquartered in Bresso, near Milan, Italy. The company is listed at SIX Swiss Exchange, trading symbol NWRN.
SOURCE Merck Serono S A