We today announced a research collaboration agreement with Biogen Inc. and Merck, known as MSD outside the US and Canada, for the validation and clinical qualification of an investigational imaging agent to be used in Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans for assessing the status and progression of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) in the brain. NFTs made up of aggregated tau protein are a hallmark of several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.The collaboration is focused on the qualification and validation of the Tau imaging agent developed by Merck, MK-6240.“At Enigma we are focused on enhancing access to key technologies that we believe have the potential to advance human health,” said Rick Hiatt, chief executive officer, EBG. “We are excited by the opportunity to work with Biogen and Merck with the goal of expanding the availability of this novel investigational imaging agent to the broader scientific community.”
“There is a critical need for sensitive biomarkers for early in-life diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases to allow for more appropriate staging of disease states, and measuring the effect of disease-modifying therapeutics,” said Darryle Schoepp, vice president discovery, Merck Research Laboratories. “Agreements such as this represent an important platform to realize the full potential of our novel investigational tau imaging agent.”
“We hope that by advancing the scientific understanding of these kinds of tools we are able to accelerate the discovery of new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases,” said Richard Hargreaves, vice president of Global Biomarker Discovery & Development at Biogen.
In early studies published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Merck scientists reported that [18F]MK-6240 has a high specificity and selectivity for neurofibrillary tangles with favorable physicochemical properties and in vivo pharmacokinetics that warranted clinical investigation as a potential PET neuroimaging agent. Merck is currently conducting an open-label Phase 1 study to investigate the safety and efficacy of [18F]MK-6240 as a PET imaging agent for quantifying brain burden of neurofibrillary tangle pathology. For further information about the trial please go to clinical trials.gov (NCT02562989).