MSD has entered a definitive agreement to acquire Caraway Therapeutics in a deal worth up to $610m.

MSD will acquire the Massachusetts-based small molecule therapeutics company through one of its subsidiaries. The $610m consideration includes undisclosed upfront and milestone-based payments. MSD plans to expense the upfront payment as part of its Q4 2023 expenses, as per a 21 November press release.

MSD has been a Caraway shareholder through its subsidiary, MRL Ventures Fund. As per the agreement, the company will “acquire all outstanding shares of Caraway with earnout milestones associated with the development of certain pipeline candidates”. The transaction has already been approved by Caraway’s board of directors.

Caraway has a preclinical pipeline of therapies for neurogenerative diseases, especially Parkinson’s disease. Caraway’s lead preclinical candidate targets the transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily (TRPML1), which is located on lysosomes and regulates their enzymatic activity. As lysosomal dysregulation has been seen in lysosomal storage and neurodegenerative diseases, the compound is being evaluated as a treatment for the lysosomal storage disorder, Gaucher disease, and glucocerebrosidase (GBA)-mutated Parkinson’s disease.

Caraway has previously received multiple grants from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s research to explore the role of TRPML1 in the condition, the most recent of which was awarded in January 2022. Parkinson’s disease market is forecasted to generate $6.3bn in global sales in 2029, as per GlobalData analysis.

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As per GlobalData, one of the highest-grossing therapies in the field is expected to be AbbVie’s drug-device ABBV-951 (foscarbidopa/foslevodopa), which delivers a subcutaneous continuous infusion of levodopa. In March, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested additional information on the drug-device before making any decision regarding ABBV-951’s new drug application.

GlobalData is the parent company of Pharmaceutical Technology.

In the last few months, MSD has invested considerable resources in expanding its therapeutics portfolio through acquisitions and partnerships. In October, the company signed a licensing agreement with Daiichi Sankyo to develop and commercialise three antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) candidates. The US biologics licence application (BLA) submission for one of the licensed ADCs, patritumab deruxtecan, is planned for March 2024.

In June, the company acquired Prometheus Biosciences for approximately $10.8bn. The acquisition expanded MSD’s immunology pipeline with Prometheus’ lead clinical candidate, PRA-023.