Merck & Co has bought itself an exclusive global licence from Teijin Pharma to develop, manufacture and commercialise an investigational preclinical antibody candidate targeting a protein called tau.

Changes in tau are associated with a number of diseases affecting the nervous system, including Alzheimer’s disease, and the addition of an experimental antibody targeting this protein to the pipeline will complement Merck’s activities in the area, the firm noted.

Specific financial terms of the deal were kept under wraps, but the parties did say that Merck will make an upfront payment to Teijin, as well as milestone payments and royalties on product sales. Teijin also retains an option to co-promote an approved therapy in Japan.

“Teijin Pharma scientists have made important progress to advance this investigational anti-tau antibody to this stage of development,” said Darryle Schoepp, vice president, neuroscience discovery, Merck Research Laboratories. “Merck remains committed to developing meaningful therapeutic options for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.”

From the other side of the fence, Tejin said it believes that Merck’s “strong neuroscience expertise makes it well suited to maximise the potential of this candidate.”