Merck KGaA has announced 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,” Souza continued.