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25 Dec 2012

GE Healthcare to supply imaging agent for Merck Alzheimer's development programme

Merck and GE Healthcare have entered a new collaboration for the use of imaging biomarkers for an investigational BACE inhibitor clinical development programme.

Merck and GE Healthcare have announced a new collaboration, license and supply agreement that will support the former's clinical development programme for MK-8931.

The programme involves Merck's lead investigational candidate for Alzheimer's disease, a novel oral beta amyloid precursor protein site cleaving enzyme (BACE) inhibitor.

Under the terms of the agreement, GE Healthcare will supply [18F]Flutemetamol, an investigational positron emission tomography (PET) imaging agent, to Merck in order to help the company select patients for its clinical trials, based on whether they might benefit from an anti-amyloid therapy.

The imaging agent should help researchers to measure deposits of beta amyloid - accumulation of which is a pathological characteristic of Alzheimer's disease - in the brain.

Dr Darryle Schoepp, senior vice-president and head of neuroscience and ophthalmology at Merck Research Laboratories, confirmed: "This agreement will allow us to employ an investigational imaging agent to help identify patients who might benefit from an anti-amyloid therapy and enable clinical evaluation of our lead BACE inhibitor candidate for Alzheimer's disease, MK-8931."

Merck is now moving forward with phase-II/III clinical studies with MK-8931, after phase-I trials showed that the investigational therapy may help to reduce beta amyloid in the cerebral spinal fluid by more than 90 per cent.

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