Another Nail In Amyloid Hypothesis Coffin? Merck Ends Pivotal BACE Inhibitor Study
In another blow for the amyloid hypothesis in Alzheimer's disease, Merck ended its pivotal EPOCH study for the BACE inhibitor verubecestat based on an interim assessment that there was "virtually no chance of finding a positive clinical effect" in the nearly completed Phase II/III clinical trial.
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Merck pays undisclosed upfront fees and promises up to $500m for milestones under licensing and collaboration agreement. Meanwhile, Tetraphase and Xerava are being acquired by La Jolla, after previous bids by Melinta and AcelRx.
The deal worth up to $576m gives Merck what Calporta founding investor Avalon believes is the most advanced program targeting TRPML1, a lysosomal ion channel implicated in neurodegenerative diseases when the lysosome stops clearing debris from cells.
Merck's verubecestat has flopped in a second Phase III Alzheimer's trial; investors are anticipating M&A or licensing deals soon to bring something new into the big pharma's development portfolio.