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Cerecor Acquires Rights To NR2B Receptor Antagonist From Merck

BALTIMORE, April 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Cerecor Inc, a neuroscience biotech company that develops therapies that have the potential to make a difference in diseases with high unmet medical needs, today announced that it has acquired exclusive, worldwide rights from Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, to develop and commercialize MK-0657, a small molecule NMDA receptor subunit 2B (NR2B) antagonist for all human indications, including depression.

There is a growing body of evidence to support the hypothesis that NMDA receptors are involved in the pathology of depression, including reports in the literature of rapid improvement of depression following intravenous administration of ketamine, an NMDA antagonist. MK-0657 is a novel potent and selective NR2B antagonist, initially developed by Merck for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.

"MK-0657 is a potential first-in-class, best-in-class, oral medication that is complementary to existing treatments in depressed patients who have failed to respond to available therapies. We are particularly interested in the potential to rapidly reduce depressive symptoms, including suicidal ideation, in these severely affected patients," stated Dr. James Vornov, Cerecor's Sr. VP of Clinical Development and Regulatory Affairs.

Under the terms of the agreement, Cerecor will immediately assume full development and commercialization responsibilities of MK-0657.  License consideration includes milestone payments and royalties consistent with clinical stage licenses in neuroscience. Cerecor anticipates completing the technology transfer activities by mid-2013 and thereafter initiating clinical trials.

"We are delighted that Merck has chosen Cerecor to help realize the value of an innovative asset such as MK-0657," added Dr. Blake Paterson, Cerecor's co-founder and CEO. "Patients and families who have struggled with severe refractory depression and suicidality easily recognize the need for more effective treatments, and we will develop MK-0657 with the purpose that befits such an important unmet need."

"Merck is pleased to sign this agreement with Cerecor as part of its ongoing out-licensing strategy.  Cerecor has established scientific and clinical expertise in the area of treatment resistant depression, an area of significant unmet medical need," said Dr. David Michelson, Vice President of Clinical Neuroscience and Ophthalmology, Merck Research Laboratories.

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