Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, announced in June, 2012 that it would be closing down operations in Geneva, Switzerland as part of its restructuring activities, but providing up to EUR 30 million ($36.9 million) in funding for start-up companies to reemploy some of those displaced workers. The first such start-up was announced on Jul. 30, 2012, funded by EUR 2.1 million ($2.57 million) in seed money from Merck Serono’s Entrepreneur Partnership Program.
The new company, Prexton Therapeutics, will employ Merck Serono scientists to continue work around Merck Serono’s R&D portfolio in the field of Parkinson’s disease. Its programs will leverage Merck Serono’s portfolio of compounds targeting the metabotropic glutamate receptors mGluR3 and mGluR4. Prexton Therapeutics plans to develop the mGluR programs from lead optimization up to clinical Phase I and will look for partnership and licensing opportunities for further development.
According to François Naef, chairman of the board of directors of Merck Serono, “We are really proud and satisfied that this first project is now coming to life. Through such initiatives, not only will we be able to maintain jobs in the Geneva area but also unique expertise.”