Cancer Research UK and the Institute of Cancer Research, London, join forces with Merck in new drug discovery alliance

Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK’s Commercial Partnerships Team and The Institute of Cancer Research, London, announced a multi-project collaboration and licensing deal with Merck, a leading science and technology company, to discover and develop new anticancer drugs.

"It is an exciting example of how successful academic networks and the scale of industry can combine to advance scientific and clinical discoveries.” - Dr Iain Foulkes

This multi-project deal follows previous single project drug discovery collaborations and a more recent target validation collaboration between Merck and Cancer Research UK’s Cancer Therapeutics Unit at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR).

The parties will collaborate on three independent research projects spanning target hit discovery to preclinical candidate nomination. This work will progress the discovery and development of potential cancer drugs, as well as develop biomarkers for target engagement and patient selection.

Under the terms of the deal, Merck has worldwide rights to take molecules discovered through the collaboration forward into clinical development. Cancer Research UK and the ICR will receive milestone payments based on the achievement of research and development, regulatory and sales goals plus royalty payments on net sales of future products discovered or developed under the agreement. Any payments made to Cancer Research UK and ICR will be invested into future lifesaving research.

Professor Raj Chopra, director of the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “We are delighted to be joining forces with Merck to accelerate the ICR’s world-leading research in understanding cancer pathways, identifying drug targets and discovering cancer drugs. 

“We hope that through the diverse projects in this collaboration, we can identify molecules that are effective against a number of different tumour types. Together we can create innovative new treatments for the benefit of patients.”

Dr Iain Foulkes, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of research and innovation, said: “This collaboration with Merck and one of Cancer Research UK’s major drug discovery units will help accelerate the development of potential new therapies for cancer patients. It is an exciting example of how successful academic networks and the scale of industry can combine to advance scientific and clinical discoveries.”

“This latest deal demonstrates Cancer Research UK’s commitment to exploiting the huge number of translational possibilities that arise from our extensive network of world-leading research scientists and clinicians.”

ENDS

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