Avalon strikes deal with Merck worth $200 mln

Avalon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ and NYSE ArcaEx: AVRX) announced a drug discovery, development and commercialization collaboration with Merck & Co., Inc. to identify and develop inhibitors for an undisclosed target that is important in the development of cancer.

Avalon will use its AvalonRx(R) platform to screen a select set of compounds from Merck’s proprietary compound library and identify hits against this target that is generally regarded as “intractable” based on the difficulty in identifying inhibitors. Avalon will select compound families and optimize these compounds to a preclinical candidate selection stage. Merck will be responsible for the clinical development, regulatory approval and commercialization of any potential product candidates.

Under the terms of the agreement Avalon may receive discovery, development, regulatory and commercial milestones payments exceeding $200 million as well as royalties on any potential future marketed products.

“We are excited about this innovative collaboration with Merck,” said Kenneth C. Carter, Ph.D., President and CEO of Avalon Pharmaceuticals, Inc. “The combination of Merck’s considerable drug discovery and development capabilities and Avalon’s unique approach for targeting otherwise intractable cancer pathways should result in the identification of first-in-class drug candidates. This will provide further validation for the AvalonRx(R) technology and its potential for identifying therapeutics based upon the ability to modulate pathways or targets within living cells.”

“We are very pleased with this agreement and believe this collaboration has potential to provide significant synergy in drug discovery,” said Lex Van der Ploeg, Ph.D., Vice President, Merck Research Laboratories and Site Head Merck Boston.

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