Merck Serono and Affectis Pharmaceuticals Announce an Agreement to Develop Oral Drugs for Neurodegenerative Diseases

By Merck Serono S A, PRNE
Tuesday, June 7, 2011

GENEVA, June 8, 2011 -

- Merck Serono to Develop Compounds from Affectis Targeting P2X7

Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, today
announced that an exclusive licensing agreement was signed with Affectis
Pharmaceuticals AG, Munich, Germany, for the development and
commercialization of oral compounds targeting P2X7 receptors. These receptors
are believed to be involved in neuroinflammation observed in some
neurodegenerative diseases.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck Serono will have worldwide
exclusive rights to develop and commercialize selected compounds. The
contract also includes a research collaboration focusing on P2X7 antagonist
optimization. Affectis will receive EUR 2.4 million in upfront payment and
research funding, and could receive up to EUR 277 million in milestones for
the first three products to come out of the collaboration, as well as
undisclosed royalties.

"We are pleased to announce this collaboration with Affectis
Pharmaceuticals, a company with robust experience in drug discovery in the
central nervous system area," said Dr. Bernhard Kirschbaum, Executive Vice
President for Global Research and Development at Merck Serono. "This
partnership with Affectis reflects our long-term commitment to developing
innovative treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, where unmet medical
need still remains."

"This agreement validates Affectis' strategy to focus on small molecules
that potentially target the neuroinflammatory aspect of some
neurodegenerative diseases. We look forward to collaborating with Merck
Serono, an industry leader in the field," said Dr. Manfred Ruediger, Chief
Executive Officer, Affectis Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Michael Boes, Chief
Scientist Officer of Affectis, further commented, "Affectis' chemistry
expertise puts special emphasis on brain penetration, which supports our
development of oral P2X7 antagonists for the potential treatment of central
nervous system diseases".

P2X7 is an ATP-gated ion channel receptor which is essential for the
maturation and release of the pro-inflammatory cytokines. P2X7 is found on
brain cells, which are activated by high levels of ATP in conditions of

About Affectis Pharmaceuticals AG

Affectis is a biopharmaceutical company developing novel drugs
for the treatment of psychiatric and neuroinflammatory disorders. Affectis'
unique capabilities in drug discovery and behavioral pharmacology allow the
company to develop drugs with innovative mechanisms of action based on
pioneering findings in depression and neuroinflammation. Affectis was founded
in 2004 as a spin-out from the Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry. The
Company has the capabilities to move its proprietary drug candidates from
discovery to early clinical stage and has successfully advanced several
compounds in its development pipeline. At the same time, Affectis is seeking
partnerships with pharmaceutical companies to accelerate development and
commercialization of its candidates.

For further information, please contact Luc St-Onge at and visit:

About Merck Serono

Merck Serono is the biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA,
Darmstadt, Germany, a global pharmaceutical and chemical company.
Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, Merck Serono discovers, develops,
manufactures and markets prescription medicines of both chemical and
biological origin in specialist indications. In the United States and Canada,
EMD Serono operates as a separately incorporated affiliate of Merck Serono.

Merck Serono has leading brands serving patients with cancer
(Erbitux(R), cetuximab), multiple sclerosis (Rebif(R), interferon beta-1a),
infertility (Gonal-f(R), follitropin alfa), endocrine and metabolic disorders
(Saizen(R) and Serostim(R), somatropin), (Kuvan(R), sapropterin
dihydrochloride), (Egrifta(TM), tesamorelin), as well as cardiometabolic
diseases (Glucophage(R), metformin), (Concor(R), bisoprolol), (Euthyrox(R),
levothyroxine). Not all products are available in all markets.

With an annual R&D expenditure of over EUR 1bn, Merck Serono
is committed to growing its business in specialist-focused therapeutic areas
including neurodegenerative diseases, oncology, fertility and endocrinology,
as well as new areas potentially arising out of research and development in

About Merck

Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with
total revenues of EUR 9.3 billion in 2010, a history that began in 1668, and
a future shaped by more than 40,000 employees in 67 countries. Its success is
characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's
operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the
Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and free shareholders own
the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was
expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.

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