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Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Enters Into License Agreement With The Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO)


12/18/2013 9:19:22 AM

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DARMSTADT, Germany, December 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

• New agreement aims to translate CNIO research into new potential treatment options for cancer patients

• License agreement encompasses two series of ATR inhibitors and a screening platform

Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical division of Merck, today announced that a license agreement has been signed with the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) in Madrid in the area of cancer drug development. The global agreement will build upon CNIO research discoveries to encourage the development and commercialization of new compounds in the field of oncology.

Under the terms of the license agreement, CNIO has granted to Merck exclusive rights to develop and commercialize their new inhibitors of the ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR) kinase. In exchange, Merck will make an initial payment along with other potential income of up to nearly € 19 million, as well as royalties on net sales. The agreement encompasses the licensing of two series of ATR inhibitors, as well as a screening platform to validate the compounds, which have currently reached an advanced preclinical stage.

"Part of Merck's commitment to oncology includes the focus on strategic agreements that allow us to foster a constant flow of innovations," said Andree Blaukat, Head of Translational Innovation Platform Oncology for Merck Serono. "We are convinced that working with like-minded organizations, like the CNIO, will further strengthen our efforts towards finding the next generation of breakthrough therapies."

"As a research organization, the CNIO is committed to fostering and promoting innovation. Among other initiatives, the CNIO's Experimental Therapeutics Program carries out early drug discovery projects. The CNIO is delighted to be working with Merck to hopefully translate this research into potential new treatment options for patients with cancer," said María Blasco, Director of the CNIO. "It is through collaborations with industry oncology leaders that we can bring CNIO discoveries, such as those made by the group led by Oscar Fernández-Capetillo, to patients, and contribute new improved products to the battle against cancer."

ATR kinase has an important role in the response to DNA damage and in facilitating cell survival. Due to the fact that tumor cells accumulate more DNA damage than healthy cells, blocking ATR kinase activity with selective inhibitors appears to be a strategy worth investigating further for specific tumor types.

About the CNIO

The CNIO was created in 1998 by the National Health Institute Carlos III, with the essential goal of developing research of excellence and providing innovative technology in the field of cancer. In the SIR World Report 2013, elaborated by the Scimago research group to compare the scientific quality of research Institutions worldwide, the CNIO occupies the second position among the best cancer centres in the word (the first position among Spanish centres). In line with these indicators, the Spanish Government recognized the quality of the CNIO's scientific and human resources programmes with the Severo Ochoa Award, accrediting CNIO as one of the eight Spanish Centres of Excellence in 2011.

Maria Blasco has held the position of Director of the CNIO since June 2011. Since its creation, the CNIO has established collaborations with several national and international companies. Moreover, in the past three years, the CNIO has launched two spin-off companies: Life Length, focused on marketing in-house-developed technology for telomere length determination as a novel method of disease risk prediction; and BioncoTech, which develops a new treatment for highly aggressive melanoma. More information: http://www.cnio.es

About Merck Serono

Merck Serono is the biopharmaceutical division of Merck. With headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, Merck Serono offers leading brands in 150 countries to help patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, infertility, endocrine and metabolic disorders as well as cardiovascular diseases. In the United States and Canada, EMD Serono operates as a separately incorporated subsidiary of Merck Serono.

Merck Serono discovers, develops, manufactures and markets prescription medicines of both chemical and biological origin in specialist indications. We have an enduring commitment to deliver novel therapies in our core focus areas of neurology, oncology, immuno-oncology and immunology.

For more information, please visit http://www.merckserono.com.

All Merck Press Releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Website. Please go to http://www.merckgroup.com/subscribe to register online, change your selection or discontinue this service.

Merck is a leading pharmaceutical, chemical and life science company with total revenues of € 11.2 billion in 2012, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by approx. 38,000 employees in 66 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and free shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.

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