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Merck Sharp & Dohme (MRK) Axes Alzheimer Deal with Acumen Pharmaceuticals Inc.


12/21/2011 7:42:30 AM

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Acumen Pharmaceuticals announces today the termination by Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., (formerly Merck & Co., Inc.) of a 2003 agreement, amended in 2006, under which Acumen granted Merck exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize anti-ADDL antibody therapeutics and diagnostics for Alzheimer's disease.

Merck's decision to discontinue this anti-ADDL Alzheimer's program and terminate the Merck-Acumen license agreement was based on internal strategic priorities. Under the termination provisions of the agreement, Acumen regains rights licensed to Merck, and also receives certain rights to patent applications and know how generated during the term of the Agreement. Anti-ADDL antibodies have high selectivity for soluble amyloid beta oligomers versus monomeric amyloid beta peptides or insoluble amyloid beta aggregates. Acumen believes this selectivity will favorably differentiate Acumen anti- ADDL immunotherapies compared to amyloid beta immunotherapies currently in late stage clinical testing.

"Acumen is very pleased to regain worldwide rights for the development and commercialization of anti-ADDL antibody therapeutics and diagnostics," stated Grant Krafft, Acumen's Chairman and Chief Science Adviser.

Acumen's Board of Directors also announces the appointment of Franz Hefti, Ph.D. as Acumen's President and CEO. Dr. Hefti has served as a Director of Acumen since 2008 and has a distinguished record in drug development and biotechnology ventures. Dr. Hefti served as Chief Science Officer for Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, which Eli Lilly & Co. acquired in 2010 for its Alzheimer's imaging product, Amyvid. Prior to Avid, Dr. Hefti was Executive Vice President of Drug Development for Rinat Neuroscience Corporation where he led preclinical and clinical drug development efforts for three antibody drug candidates. The success of these programs led to Pfizer's 2006 acquisition of Rinat. Previously, Dr. Hefti was Senior Vice President of Neuroscience Research at Merck, Director of Neuroscience Research at Genentech, and a Professor at the University of Southern California and Associate Professor at the University of Miami.

"The recent failures of a gamma secretase inhibitor and the limited efficacy observed so far with non-selective amyloid beta immunotherapies indicates that industry may have been focused on suboptimal targets within the amyloid beta pathways," stated Dr. Hefti. "Our Merck colleagues successfully advanced anti-ADDL antibody therapeutics to a late pre-clinical development stage based on antibodies that we believe will allow Acumen to develop a best in class, disease modifying therapy for Alzheimer's disease."

William Goure, Ph.D., has been appointed Acumen's Chief Operating Officer, a position he formerly held.

About Acumen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Acumen Pharmaceuticals is a development stage biotechnology company focused on discovering and developing best in class therapeutics and diagnostics for Alzheimer's disease. Acumen owns or has exclusive license rights to key patents, related intellectual property and drug development capabilities relating to amyloid beta soluble oligomers, now widely believed to be an underlying cause of Alzheimer's disease. Acumen is partnered with Merz Pharmaceuticals, GmbH for the development of certain small molecule therapeutics for Alzheimer's disease.

SOURCE Acumen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.



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