Collaboration will focus on small molecule candidates developed by French GPCR drugs firm.

French firm Domain Therapeutics will receive €2 million (about $2.6 million) up front from new partner Merck Serono as part of a deal to develop metabotropic glutamate receptor 4 (mGluR4) positive allosteric modulator (PAM) drugs against Parkinson disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. The collaboration will focus on optimized compounds developed by Domain, which could receive up to another €132 million (roughly $171 million) in milestones for the first two products.

Domain hopes its deal with Merck Serono will act as a springboard for future agreements centered on its GPCR-targeting technology. “This agreement is a validation of Domain Therapeutics’ business model of addressing difficult GPCRs and partnering compounds, with a significant deal, at an early stage of development,” remarks Pascal Neuville, CEO. “We anticipate that this agreement will enable us to sign further deals of this kind.”

Domain is exploiting its DTect-All™ platform for the discovery and early development of small molecules targeting GPCRs. The firm claims the platform can identify orthosteric and allosteric ligands of GPCRs, including silent allosteric modulators and can address traditionally intractable targets such as orphan and peptidic GPCRs.

Domain’s lead-optimization-stage pipeline is headed by the mGluR4 PAM program, now partnered with Merck Serono. It also includes an A2A selective antagonist program for Parkinson disease therapy, an A3 selective antagonist program for the potential treatment of glaucoma, and an mGluR2 NAM project for the potential treatment of Alzheimer disease and depression.

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