Merck Serono, a division of Merck, has created Prexton Therapeutics, the first spin-off company resulting from its Entrepreneur Partnership Program launched in April. 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.

Prexton will develop the mGluR programs from lead optimization up to clinical Phase I and seek partnership and licensing opportunities for further development. 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 in the framework of the efficiency measures being taken by Merck Serono, the Entrepreneur Partnership Program is part of a €30 million commitment to support the creation of spin-off and startup 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 restructuring. In April, Merck Serono said that 500 jobs would likely be cut, but over 750 would be transferred. For details on the firm’s restructuring, click here.

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