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Astellas and MerLion Announce Drug Discovery Agreement

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Astellas Pharma Inc. and MerLion Pharmaceuticals Pte Ltd have announced the signature of a collaborative agreement to discover and develop drug candidates derived from natural products chemistry.

Under the collaboration agreement, MerLion will receive a pipeline of validated drug targets from the Astellas portfolio and will utilise its extensive natural sample collection, its modern high throughput screening facilities and experienced natural products chemistry skills for the identification of chemical seeds.

Astellas will conduct the optimisation of such compounds and generate drug candidates for future development.

Successful drug candidates will be subject to agreed licensing terms in return for milestone and royalty payments.

“We are delighted to have signed this agreement with the newly-merged Astellas,” said Dr. Tony Buss, CEO of MerLion.

“The collaboration provides many opportunities for novel candidate generation across the broadened Astellas target portfolio and strengthens our long-term relationship with the Japanese pharmaceutical industry.”

“Our collaboration will extend the window of natural product drug discovery and allow us to take our expertise a step further,” said Dr. Isao Yanagisawa, Senior Corporate Officer, Senior Vice President, Drug Discovery Research of Astellas.

“We look forward to a productive and powerful relationship with MerLion.”