Merck KGaA announced that it has formed a multi-year strategic alliance between its Merck Serono division and Archemix Corp. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to discover, develop and commercialize first-in-class aptamer therapeutics with a primary focus on the treatment of cancer. Additional areas of the collaboration include autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. The alliance combines Archemix' proprietary SELEX® technology to discover and generate aptamer candidates with Merck Serono's drug development and commercialization capabilities. In addition, Merck Serono is granted a license to use Archemix' SELEX® technology for internal target validation.
The collaboration gives Merck Serono the option to obtain product licenses to certain of Archemix's lead-stage aptamer programs and the right to select and develop aptamers against six targets in oncology and other indications. Archemix has the option to exercise a co-development and co-promote option on any of the products being developed on a 50:50 cost and profit-sharing basis in the United States. This is the second research agreement this year between the two companies.
Additionally, Merck will make a $29.8 million equity investment in Archemix. Merck also retains an option, under certain circumstances, to acquire additional Archemix common stock upon an initial public offering. Other financial terms were not disclosed.