02-08-2012: Merck Serono, a division of Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, announced the creation of Prexton Therapeutics, the first spin-off company resulting from its Entrepreneur Partnership Program launched in April 2012. Prexton Therapeutics will be formed around Merck Serono’s R&D portfolio in the field of Parkinson’s disease and will focus on programs that target the metabotropic glutamate receptors mGluR3 and mGluR4.
With a team composed of seasoned Merck Serono scientists with long-standing experience in neurology and a significant portfolio of chemical compounds stemming from Merck Serono’s pre-clinical research, Prexton Therapeutics will be well positioned in the field of neurodegenerative diseases. The newly founded company will develop the mGluR programs from lead optimization up to clinical Phase I and seek partnership and licensing opportunities for further development. The company will be hosted in the offices and laboratory of Eclosion, a biotech start-up incubator located in Plan-les-Ouates, Geneva, and supported by the Geneva authorities. Merck Serono will invest € 2.1 million as seed funding. Merck Serono Ventures will manage the investment and will be represented on the company’s board of directors.
“Metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR) have been shown recently to be a key target to tackle the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, modulating their response is certainly among the most promising ways to develop future treatments for one of the most severe brain diseases,” said François Conquet, founder and CEO of Prexton Therapeutics.
Announced in April 2012 in the framework of the efficiency measures being taken by Merck Serono, the Entrepreneur Partnership Program (EPP) is part of a € 30 million commitment to support the creation of spin-off and start-up companies focused on continuing activities and compounds that originated at Merck Serono. This program is aimed at reducing the impact on employment following closure of the Geneva headquarters due to the restructuring.