Holiday Pre-Barbeque Clean Up: Merck Tries “Tau — For Now”…

This cleverly-titled note caught my eye. The news was from late last week, but Merck has added another smallish (pre-clinical) in-license deal — to supplement its on-going Alzheimer’s candidate R&D stable of approaches.

This one (a tau-antibody approach) comes from Japanese headquartered Teijin Pharma, and will be added into the research mix, along MK-6420, a tau ligand program already in-house. But at Kenilworth, it is the verubecestat candidate (now in Phase Ib) that is furthest along, in clinical study enrollment. [Regular readers will recall that Merck and Teijin are well-known to one another, as they have long worked together in Japan — to market the osteoporosis medicines Teiroc®, and Bonalon® (both names owned by Merck).]

In any event, here is the EPVantage item:

. . . .But, as with any Alzheimer’s project, there are reasons to be cautious. The tau-targeting approach was dealt a blow in December when Taurx Pharmaceuticals quietly slipped out the failure of a second phase III trial of LMTX. The company is persevering with this project, but so far the omens are not good.

Taurx had hoped that statistical tinkering would help it get a result after the failure of its initial TRx-237-015 phase III study in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. . . .

But the TRx-237-005 study, in mild disease, also failed to show a difference between the treatment and placebo groups in the original, as-randomized analyses. A confounding factor might have been that the placebo group received a low dose of LMTX to stain bodily effluents blue and thus maintain blinding, which could have been effective, Taurx claims. . . .

Taurx’s tribulations have obviously not put off Merck, which now has exclusive worldwide rights to Teijin’s unnamed preclinical tau antibody. The group kept the value of the deal under wraps, but Teijin will retain an option to co-promote in Japan.

The project works differently from LMTX, a tau aggregation inhibitor. . . .

Now you know. Getting a honking, huge mess of full rib-slabs dry-seasoned, and all the mani-fold sides, started — with 20 people expected here, for tomorrow’s grilling festivities — but first, a workout.

Do take a moment to thank those families — especially Gold Star families — who have (in Mr. Lincoln’s towering turn of phrase) “given the last full measure of their devotion” to ensure and preserve our freedoms — for over two and a half centuries, now. Military families, we are so grateful for all you do.

We look forward to peace — brought to us, in no small part by your unwavering courage. Thank you, all.

नमस्ते

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