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Genaissance to Identify Genetic Markers of Patients Responding to Merck Antidepressant

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NEW YORK, Sept. 23 (GenomeWeb News) - Genaissance will use its haplotyping technology to find genetic markers identifying patients that respond to a Merck selective seratonin inhibitor, and will develop and commercialize the drug as part of a license agreement penned by the two companies, Merck said today in a press release.


During the first half of 2005, Genaissance hopes to begin enrollment for a Phase II clinical trial that will include pharmacogenomic characterization of patients, said the statement.


Under the terms of the agreement, Merck is entitled to receive up to $44 million worth of common shares of Genaissance for the initial license fee and milestone payments up to the first commercial sale, based on a trailing average of the closing price of the stock prior to the relevant payment dates, said the statement.  


The compound, vilazodone, is also a 5HT1A partial agonist, said Merck.  In Phase II clinical trials for depression, the compound has shown signals of efficacy and a favorable side effects profile in more than 1,000 patients, the company added.