Merck signs natural product agreement

Privately owned MerLion Pharmaceuticals

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SINGAPORE—Privately owned MerLion Pharmaceuticals announced it has signed a two-year drug discovery and licensing agreement with Merck Banyu, the Japanese subsidiary of Merck. The collaborative agreement will see the companies identify and screen new drug candidates from MerLion's natural product collection against a variety of oncology and metabolic targets. For its part, MerLion will receive unspecified revenues in the form of up-front, milestone, and royalty payments.
"This new partnership with Merck Banyu further strengthens MerLion's long relationship with the Japanese pharmaceutical industry," said Dr Tony Buss, MerLion CEO. "This, and the extension of our existing collaboration with Merck & Co in anti-infectives, reflects the industry-wide recognition that the diversity of chemistry found in natural product samples remains a vital source of new chemical entities for drug discovery."
"MerLion Pharmaceuticals has established a substantial clinical development strategy for [natural] products that will have a strong impact in the Asia Pacific region, and ultimately lead the company to new heights," said market analyst Dr. Amarpreet Dhiman when MerLion received Frost & Sullivan's 2006 Market Penetration Leadership Award. "The company is well-positioned for profitable growth and market penetration with a significant competitive edge in this field of drug discovery."

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