Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical division of Merck, has entered into an agreement on cancer drug development with the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) in Madrid. The agreement will build upon CNIO research discoveries with the aim of translating its research into new treatment options for cancer patients.
Under the terms of the license agreement, Merck receives exclusive rights to develop and commercialize CNIO’s new inhibitors of the ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR) kinase. Merck will in turn make an initial payment to CNIO along with other potential income of up to € 19 million, as well as royalties on net sales. The agreement encompasses the licensing of two series of ATR inhibitors, as well as a screening platform to validate the compounds, which have currently reached an advanced preclinical stage.
ATR kinase plays an important role in the response to DNA damage and in facilitating cell survival. Due to the fact that tumor cells accumulate more DNA damage than healthy cells, blocking ATR kinase activity with selective inhibitors appears to be a strategy worth investigating further for specific tumor types.
Source: Merck Serono