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Merck & Chord Therapeutics

Merck acquires Geneva-based biopharmaceutical company Chord Therapeutics

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Merck invests into Cadribine to try to cure rare neuroinflammatory diseases


Chord Therapeutics (Chord), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing drugs for rare neuroinflammatory diseases, announced on 20 December 2021, that it has been acquired by the leading science and technology company Merck. The strategic acquisition enables Merck to expand its neurology pipeline to develop Chord’s lead drug candidate, CRD1 (cladribine), for the treatment of Generalized myasthenia gravis (gMG) and Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorders (NMOSD).


“I am very pleased with Chord’s progress over the last year since our launch. I am grateful to Omega Funds for their support and financing, and for sharing our vision of the potential of cladribine in NMOSD and gMG. We are thrilled that our work is now continued by Merck and delighted with this opportunity to considerably accelerate the development and bring this drug to patients in need faster”, said Tom Plitz, CEO of Chord Therapeutics.


“Cladribine has a unique mechanism of action which is relevant in antibody-mediated diseases such as NMOSD and gMG. In exploratory studies, cladribine demonstrated promising results in these diseases. These data have prompted us to initiate further development with cladribine in gMG and NMOSD to potentially bring a new therapeutic option to patients and expand our portfolio in this area,” said Danny Bar-Zohar, MD, Head of Global Development for the biopharma business of Merck.


Chord Therapeutics was launched in October 2020 by leading healthcare venture capital firm Omega Funds, the sole investor in the Company’s USD 16 million Series A financing.


With the recent acquisition of Chord Therapeutics and a EUR 900+ million contract with Debiopharm, and with production sites in Corsier-sur-Vevey and Aubonne, as well as its future Biotech Development Center, Merck’s numerous investments in the region over the last few years have demonstrated the strategic importance of Switzerland for the pharmaceutical giant, where the company employs more than 2,500 people across eight sites.


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