Merck & Co., Inc. and FoxHollow Technologies have announced the formation of a pharmacogenomics collaboration.
The collaboration will focus on analyzing atherosclerotic plaque removed from patient arteries as a means of identifying biomarkers of atherosclerotic disease progression for use in the development of cardiovascular compounds in Merck's pipeline.
The agreement includes a research collaboration of up to three years.
As part of the collaboration, FoxHollow will provide exclusive access to atherosclerotic plaque samples collected from patients who have cardiovascular disease and have been treated with the SilverHawk™ Plaque Excision System.
The SilverHawk System is a minimally invasive catheter system used to remove atherosclerotic plaque, which blocks blood flow in the arteries. The device is used to treat peripheral arterial disease.
Merck's responsibilities include analyzing the collected plaque samples to identify biomarkers and profiling compounds using these biomarker platforms.
"We currently assess risk of heart disease using blood markers such as cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and CRP, but none of these provides a direct view of the immediate cause of disease which is atherosclerotic plaque," said Richard Pasternak, M.D., Vice President Clinical Research at Merck.
"Our collaboration with FoxHollow has the potential to provide insight on cardiovascular disease and to accelerate development of novel drugs for this widespread health issue."
Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will make initial cash payments of $9 million to FoxHollow to cover the first year of the collaboration.
If Merck elects to continue the collaboration, then it will pay FoxHollow additional payments of up to $31 million in the following two years.
FoxHollow will also receive milestone payments and royalties based upon achieving program objectives.
"It is our greatest hope and expectation that this partnership will lead to a more precise understanding of cardiovascular disease, and result in innovative new medicines that are specific for an individual patient," said John Simpson, Ph.D., M.D., Chairman of the Board of FoxHollow Technologies.
"As an undisputed leader in advancing cardiovascular medicine, Merck is the best possible partner for this collaboration."
"We are thrilled to be a part of such a groundbreaking exploration of a disease area that remains little understood and significantly undertreated."