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Merck buys VC-backed Chord Therapeutics

Merck has acquired Chord Therapeutics, a developer of drugs for rare neuroinflammatory diseases.

Merck has acquired Chord Therapeutics, a developer of drugs for rare neuroinflammatory diseases. No financial terms were disclosed. Chord is backed by Omega Funds.

PRESS RELEASE

Geneva, December 20, 2021: Chord Therapeutics (Chord), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing drugs for rare neuroinflammatory diseases, today announces that it is being acquired by Merck, a leading science and technology company. The strategic acquisition enables Merck to expand its neurology pipeline to develop Chord’s lead drug candidate, CRD1 (cladribine), for the treatment of gMG and NMOSD

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.

Tom Plitz, CEO of Chord Therapeutics, commented: “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 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 to bring this drug to patients in need faster.”

Arthur Roach, Founder and Director of Chord Therapeutics, commented: “I am particularly pleased that Chord’s focus on severe, rare neurological conditions will be complemented by Merck’s established leadership with cladribine in MS. The very substantial synergies that will result have the potential to create important new treatment options for patients living with these devastating conditions.”

Claudio Nessi, Chair of Chord Therapeutics and Managing Director at Omega Funds, added: “Our goal at Omega Funds is to back exceptional people and innovative science. As the founding and sole investors in Chord, we subscribed early on to Arthur’s vision that CRD1 (cladribine) should be developed in gMG and NMOSD. We are very pleased that Merck, with its resources and expertise, will now continue with the work we have started, to bring this drug to patients who need a safe and proven solution to manage their diseases.”

“Cladribine has a unique mechanism of action which is relevant in antibody-mediated disease 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.

Cladribine is a well characterized molecule that has been extensively studied across MS and oncologic disorders and has shown promising results in exploratory studies in gMG and NMOSD. Merck plans to leverage its existing capabilities to further develop an oral cladribine product, tailored specifically for those indications.

Lazard acted as financial advisor and Baker McKenzie acted as legal advisor to Chord on the transaction, which is expected to close in early 2022 after satisfactory completion of customary closing conditions.

About Chord Therapeutics
Chord Therapeutics is a Swiss-based clinical stage pharmaceutical company developing drugs for patients with rare, life-threatening and severely disabling diseases. Chord is advancing its lead drug candidate, CRD1 (cladribine), for the treatment of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOSD) and generalized myasthenia gravis (gMG). Chord Therapeutics was founded in 2014 and launched in October 2020 with Series A funding by its sole investor, Omega Funds, a leading international venture capital firm focused on delivering impactful medicines to patients.

About Omega Funds
Founded in 2004, Omega Funds is a leading international venture capital firm that creates and invests in life sciences companies that target our world’s most urgent medical needs. Omega focuses on identifying and supporting companies through value inflection points across the full arc of innovation, from company formation through clinical milestones and commercial adoption. Omega Funds’ portfolio companies have brought 46 products to market in multiple therapeutic areas, including oncology, rare diseases, precision medicine and others. Please visit www.omegafunds.com for additional information.