ARTICLE | Product Development

Dov's hat trick

August 9, 2004 7:00 AM UTC

Over the last decade, a growing body of evidence is showing that the standard treatment of depression by serotonin and/or norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors could be improved by inhibiting dopamine reuptake as well. However, synthesizing a triple reuptake inhibitor has been a challenge, as the three transporters differ in their molecular properties, and uptake inhibition needs to be balanced in terms of selectivity for and activity on the three transporters. Dov Pharmaceuticals Inc. claims it can do the trick, and last week Merck & Co. Inc. in-licensed two of its compounds in a deal that ultimately could garner $455 million.

In patients with depression, concentration of these three neurotransmitters is low. In the brain, their action is terminated by specific transport proteins, which remove them from synapses. When the uptake of one or more of these transport proteins is inhibited by drugs, the result is an increased concentration of these neurotransmitters at their receptors...