Merck announces partnerships in antiviral, cardiovascular therapeutics

Merck to partner with AiCuris, Theravance in new agreements

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WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J.—Merck kicked off the week withannouncements of two new agreements in antivirals and heart failuretherapeutics.
 
 
The first agreement consists of an exclusive worldwidelicensing agreement established between Merck and AiCuris, a Wuppertal,Germany-based pharmaceutical company specializing in antiviral andantibacterial agents. The agreement covers AiCuris' novel portfolio ofinvestigational medicines that target Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV), includingletermovir (AIC246), an oral, late-stage antiviral candidate currently underinvestigation for the treatment and prevention of HCMV infection in organtransplantation cases.
 
"Merck's ongoing commitment to infectious diseaseresearch, combined with its experience in developing and marketing antiviralproducts, makes them an excellent partner for AiCuris' unique HCMVportfolio," Dr. Helga Rübsamen-Schaeff, CEO of AiCuris, said in a pressrelease. "We very much look forward to working with the scientists andclinical development teams at Merck to maximize the therapeutic potential ofthese candidates for patients."
 
 
Per the terms of the agreement, Merck will gain, through asubsidiary, worldwide rights to the development and commercialization ofcandidates in AiCuris' HCMV portfolio, for which AiCuris will receive a €110million (approximately $144 million) upfront payment. AiCuris will also beeligible for development, regulatory and commercialization milestone paymentsof up to €332.5 million (approximately $435.4 million), as well as royaltypayments on any products that result from the agreement.
 
"There is a significant need for additional medicinesfor the treatment of HCMV infection, which is one of the most common viralinfections affecting organ and bone marrow transplant patients," said Dr.Roger Pomerantz, senior vice president, Worldwide Licensing and KnowledgeManagement, and Infectious Disease Franchise Head at Merck ResearchLaboratories. "AiCuris has built a leading portfolio of innovativeantiviral HCMV candidates that are designed to address novel targets and offerthe potential for HCMV prophylaxis. This portfolio complements Merck's broadantiviral portfolio."
 
The second agreement, announced a day later, consists of acollaboration with Theravance, Inc. to discover, develop and commercializenovel small molecule therapeutics against a potential target for the treatmentof hypertension and heart failure. Merck will pay $5 million upfront inexchange for a worldwide, exclusive license to Theravance's therapeuticcandidates, and Theravance will also be eligible for up to $148 million inmilestone payments for the first indication as well as royalties on net salesof any products that result from the agreement.
 
 
"Despite years of medical advances, there remainsignificant unmet medical needs in the management of cardiovasculardisease," Mathai Mammen, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president of Researchand Early Clinical Development at Theravance, said in a press release."Over the last several years, Theravance has gained significant insightsinto the design of novel molecules directed towards certain cardiovasculartargets. We are pleased to be working with Merck, an industry leader in thedevelopment of innovative cardiovascular medicines, to bring new therapies topatients."
 
 
"Merck remains committed to the discovery anddevelopment of new therapies for cardiovascular disease," MichaelMendelsohn, M.D., senior vice president of Cardiovascular Research at Merck,said in a statement. "By combining Merck's experience with the strengthsof the Theravance team, we are well positioned to advance this newcollaboration forward."


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