Issue Date: June 18, 2007
Archemix Strikes Deals In Field Of Aptamers
The Cambridge, Mass., biotech company Archemix has signed deals with Merck Serono and Takeda Pharmaceutical that underscore growing interest in drugs based on aptamers, single-stranded nucleic acids that have binding properties similar to those of antibodies but are chemically synthesized. Merck Serono, the prescription drug arm of Germany's Merck, has signed on for a multiyear alliance to develop aptamer-based drugs to treat cancer. As part of the deal, Merck will take a $29.8 million stake in Archemix and will retain an option to buy stock in the company if it goes public. Earlier this year, the companies established a research pact to develop cancer treatments. Merck Serono will have access to Archemix' lead-stage aptamer programs in oncology and can choose to develop aptamers against six other targets for cancer and other indications. Separately, Archemix will get $6 million from Takeda to generate aptamer-based product candidates against three targets identified by the Japanese firm. Archemix also will receive R&D funding as well as milestone payments and royalties on sales of any products that result from the collaboration.
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