Diagenic to Provide Mild Cognitive Impairment Biomarkers for Merz Pharmaceuticals
News Jun 25, 2009
DiaGenic ASA has announced that it has signed an option agreement with Merz Pharmaceuticals GmbH, a developer of drugs for treatment of illnesses in neurology and psychiatry, to gain access to biomarkers for Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), increasingly considered a transitional stage to Alzheimer’s disease.
The biomarkers are intended to be used to identify patients with MCI prone to converting to Alzheimer’s disease for inclusion into Merz’ clinical trial programs. Merz will also receive an option for non-exclusive rights to further biomarkers under the terms of the agreement. Financial details were not disclosed.
“This agreement with Merz is a major milestone in DiaGenic’s development, marking both further recognition of our blood-based gene expression diagnostic concept and a new market area,” said DiaGenic CEO Erik Christensen, M.D., Ph.D.
“We have already successfully identified biomarkers of prodromal Alzheimer’s disease. The agreement with Merz will enable us to accelerate our ongoing multicenter study by recruiting additional sites. There is a growing consensus that using biomarkers will be critical in order to accelerate development of Alzheimer’s drugs, especially those with disease-modifying or preventive therapeutic effects. We look forward to working with Merz to provide further evidence. In general, patient stratification for clinical trials using biomarkers is a rapidly growing sector and we feel we are poised to make a significant contribution,” concludes Christensen.
One of the new sites will be the University of California, Davis and Prof. Charles DeCarli, Director of Alzheimer's Disease Center commented: “We are very pleased to take part in this very exciting research and I strongly believe in the utility of DiaGenic technology using peripheral gene expression to identify biomarkers for CNS disorders.”
Merz’ goal is to offer novel therapeutic options of additional benefit to the patients by developing new drugs within Merz’ main area of expertise, the treatment of CNS disorders.
Dr. Martin Zugel, CEO of Merz Pharmaceuticals GmbH, explains: “There is an urgent need for biomarkers that can accurately identify MCI converters. We have identified DiaGenic’s technology as being one of the front-runners in this area. The partnership with DiaGenic for biomarker development should lead to improved clinical trial recruitment and, thus, support Merz’ endeavours in reaching our ambitious goal of bringing Alzheimer drugs to the patient, thus responding to currently unmet medical needs.”