Archemix Adds Partners | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: June 11, 2007

Archemix Adds Partners

Merck Serono and Takeda sign on for access to aptamer technology
Department: Business

Archemix, a privately held biotech company based in Cambridge, Mass., added to its growing list of partners this week through deals with Merck Serono and Takeda Pharmaceutical. The alliances underscore growing interest in developing drugs based on aptamers, single-stranded nucleic acids that have binding properties similar to 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. Merck retains an option to buy stock in the company if it goes public.

The deal deepens the relationship between the companies, which established a research pact earlier this year 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.

In a separate pact, Archemix will get a $6 million payment from Japan's Takeda. The multiyear deal—Archemix' sixth major partnership in the past year—calls for Archemix to come up with aptamer-based product candidates against three targets identified by Takeda, which will own the rights to develop and commercialize those products. Archemix will also receive R&D funding, as well as milestone payments and royalties on sales of any products that come out of the collaboration.

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