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Merck Acquiring Caraway Therapeutics for Precision Neurodegenerative, Rare Disease Drugs

NEW YORK – Merck will acquire Caraway Therapeutics in a deal valued at $610 million in an effort to add precision neurodegenerative and rare disease therapeutics to its pipeline.

In the deal, Merck will acquire all outstanding shares of Caraway and may make additional payments if Caraway achieves milestones associated with development of certain pipeline drugs. Caraway's board of directors has already approved the transaction.

Caraway is in the early stages of researching several treatments in genetically defined neurodegenerative diseases and other rare disease indications. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm has preclinical-stage agents in a non-central nervous system rare disease, GBA-mutated Parkinson's disease, as well as in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and a discovery-stage program in Parkinson's disease.

The company's targeted agents are designed to clear toxic cellular components that lead to cell death, such as damaged organelles, aggregated proteins, or accumulated lipids. Caraway discovers and develops treatments by utilizing an in-depth understanding of genetic mutations and other biological processes that impair cellular clearance and cause neurodegenerative disorders. 

Merck has been a shareholder in Caraway through its MRL Ventures fund since 2018. Now, in being acquired by Merck, the company will be able to leverage Merck's R&D resources to advance its early-stage therapeutic programs.

"Caraway's multidisciplinary approach has yielded important progress in evaluating novel mechanisms of modulation of lysosomal function with potential for the treatment of progressive neurodegenerative diseases," George Addona, senior VP of discovery, preclinical development and translational medicine at Merck Research Laboratories, said in a statement. "We look forward to applying our expertise to build upon this work with the goal of developing much needed disease-modifying therapies for these conditions."