Merck Signs Strategic Alliance With Archemix
- Category: DNA RNA and Cells
- Published on Tuesday, 12 June 2007 04:00
- Hits: 2645
DARMSTADT, Germany | June 11, 2007 | Merck KGaA announced today that it has formed a multi-year strategic alliance between its Merck Serono division and Archemix Corp. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to discover, develop and commercialize first-in-class aptamer therapeutics with a primary focus on the treatment of cancer. Additional areas of the collaboration include autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. The alliance combines Archemix’ proprietary SELEX® technology to discover and generate aptamer candidates with Merck Serono’s drug development and commercialization capabilities. In addition, Merck Serono is granted a license to use Archemix’ SELEX® technology for internal target validation.
The collaboration gives Merck Serono the option to obtain product licenses to certain of Archemix’s lead-stage aptamer programs and the right to select and develop aptamers against six targets in oncology and other indications. Archemix has the option to exercise a co-development and co-promote option on any of the products being developed on a 50:50 cost and profit-sharing basis in the United States. This is the second research agreement this year between the two companies.
Additionally, Merck will make a $29.8 million equity investment in Archemix. Merck also retains an option, under certain circumstances, to acquire additional Archemix common stock upon an initial public offering. Other financial terms were not disclosed.
“Aptamers have the potential to play a key role in the next generation of drugs in our core therapeutic areas.” said Dr. Bernhard Kirschbaum, Executive Senior Vice President and Director of Research, Merck Serono. “Archemix is the leader in the discovery of aptamer therapeutics and we believe that, as a class, aptamers can create a new paradigm of treatment.”
“The collaboration with Merck Serono represents a key strategic initiative for Archemix and the development of our pipeline, especially in the area of oncology,” said Errol De Souza, Ph.D., President and CEO, Archemix. “We will be working with a recognized leader in drug development to discover, develop and commercialize first-in-class aptamer-based therapeutics. With our co-development and co-promote options we can participate in the development and commercialization of certain of the products that come out of the collaboration while simultaneously generating significant cash flows to fund our proprietary aptamer pipeline.”
Aptamers are single-stranded nucleic acids that form well-defined three dimensional shapes, allowing them to bind target molecules in a manner that is conceptually similar to antibodies. Aptamers combine the optimal characteristics of small molecules and antibodies, including high specificity and affinity, chemical stability, low immunogenicity and the ability to target protein-protein interactions. In contrast to monoclonal antibodies, aptamers are chemically synthesized rather than biologically expressed.
Archemix Corp. is a privately-held biopharmaceutical company developing aptamers as a class of directed therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of human disease. The company is leveraging its proprietary drug discovery technology to fuel the growth of its development portfolio, which is primarily focused on acute cardiovascular and hematology diseases and cancer. Archemix's broad product pipeline, being developed both by the company as well as its licensees, includes multiple investigational compounds at various stages of development several of which are moving into advanced clinical trials. Archemix’s lead proprietary product, ARC1779, a selective platelet inhibitor, is anticipated to start Phase IIa clinical trials before the end of 2007. Archemix' leadership position in intellectual property, technology and expertise relating to aptamers has enabled it to form numerous collaborations with biotechnology and pharmaceutical collaborators, including Merck Serono, Pfizer Inc., Elan Pharma, Nuvelo, Inc., Antisoma plc., and Regado Biosciences. For more information, please visit www.archemix.com.