MELBOURNE, Australia, March 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Australian biotechnology company Amrad Corporation Ltd today announced it had received the second US$3 million milestone payment from global pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., Inc.
The payment, following the milestone payment received in November 2003, reflects the rapid progress in the Company's collaboration to research new asthma therapies. It brings to US$11 million, Merck's total payments to Amrad since June last year. The deal is potentially worth US$112 million to Amrad, plus royalties.
Amrad CEO Dr Pete Smith said the Company's achievement of this second preclinical milestone was "further confirmation of the rapid progress made by Amrad's scientists."
"Reaching this milestone demonstrates our expertise and capacity to deliver key outcomes crucial to the drug development process. It shows Amrad's scientific and commercial strategy is on the right track," Dr. Smith said.
Under the agreement Amrad and Merck are collaborating to investigate drug candidates, with Merck solely responsible for all clinical development and marketing.
Merck Sharp & Dohme (Australia) Managing Director Will Delaat congratulated Amrad's scientists for achieving the latest milestone deliverable to support the Merck development program. "We are very pleased with the momentum this project is gaining. It gives us great hope we can progress out of the laboratory and into the clinic," Mr. Delaat said.
"There is a huge demand for improved treatments for asthma. There are many millions of asthma sufferers around the world being treated inadequately with current therapies. Our collaboration with Amrad is very important and as the payment shows it is moving forward rapidly and well," he said.
Amrad Corporation Limited is an Australian drug discovery and development based biotechnology company. Amrad's in-house R&D expertise is focused on priority projects in the areas of cytokine biology especially in the fields of inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma, as well as cancer. Amrad has considerable intellectual property in this area covering targets such as VEGF-B, GM-CSFR, IL-13R and LIF. In October 2003 Amrad announced its intention to spin out its antiviral programs. Further information about projects in drug discovery and development can be found at http://www.amrad.com.au/.
About Merck Sharp & Dohme (Australia)
Merck Sharp & Dohme is the subsidiary of global research-based pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., Inc. Operating in Australia for more than 50 years, Merck Sharp & Dohme is among Australia's top 40 firms investing in research and development. The Amrad asthma collaboration builds on other significant collaborations between Merck Sharp & Dohme and Australian researchers, including a vaccine now in final clinical trials that offers hope in the fight against cervical cancer. Further information on Merck Sharp & Dohme can be found at http://www.msd-australia.com.au/
CONTACT: Bob Moses, Chairman, +61-412-211-018, or +61-3-9208-4000, orPete Smith, Chief Executive Officer, +61-3-9208-4108, both of AmradCorporation, or Jane Paterson, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Australia,+61-2-9795-9601, or +61-414-795-207, for Amrad Corporation