MSD (a/k/a Merck US) Strikes Its First Public Epigenetics Oncology R&D Deal: $15 Million In Upfronts — Up To $515 Million, On Milestones

[First, just to be clear, this (MSD) is the name “our” Merck (US) must use outside the US and Canada — and since this deal emanates from Australian and U.K. sources of tech, the correct way to refer to it — from Kenilowrth’s perspective — is through MSD. Whew. Silly stuff, that. Check that link if you’ve forgotten about that cha-cha, already.]

FierceBioTech has a nicely-nuanced, well-told story out, now — and truly, it is small, in terms of Kenilworth’s committed funds — only some $15 million in required Merck upfronts. But should the PRMT5 inhibitor enzyme pathway turn out to work well in arresting cancers, Merck would pay another up to $500 million on regulatory milestones being hit, and more in a running royalty, on all the eventual global sales. Still it is a good deal, because it presents only a small current period outlay, but one which would potentially generate a mega-blockbuster oncology product down the road — like in 2020 or beyond. Read all about it, here:

. . . .The deal is Merck’s first public partnership into epigenetics, the overarching science that governs heritable genes and how they express themselves. Thanks to the sprawling complexity of biology, people with the same genotypes can have widely ranging phenotypic traits, leading researchers to delve into the upstream processes that can effectively switch genes on and off in hopes of finding new therapies.

Merck’s new compounds stem from work by Australian Cooperative Research Center for Cancer Therapeutics, based in Melbourne, with the support of the Wellcome Trust. The licensing fees will be spread out among the Australian center, Wellcome and Cancer Research Technology, or CRT, which is CRUK’s commercialization arm.

“The deal provides potentially significant financial returns, which CRT will invest into life-saving cancer research, and most importantly will hopefully bring promising new drugs to cancer patients as well as those suffering from blood disorders where there are no effective treatment options available,” Phil L’Huillier, CRT’s director of business development, said in a statement. . . .

Onward — with a grin. . . Friday’s just around the corner!


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