A recent Reuters article pointed out that Merck
In this collaboration, Merck acquired the rights to VX-680, which is a small-molecule drug that inhibits Aurora kinase (a type of protein). According to Vertex, these kinases are required for cells to proliferate, so blocking their activity may be a useful approach in the treatment of cancer. VX-680 is very early in clinical development and will be entering phase 1 clinical trials later this year.
Novel small-molecule cancer drugs that target specific pathways are a hot item in the drug industry right now, and Merck had to pay up to land this one. It's paying Vertex $20 million up front, another $14 million in research funding, and up to $350 million in milestones if VX-680 weathers the grueling clinical trials process to reach the market. If VX-680 is commercialized, Merck would pay Vertex a royalty on sales.
The financial aspects of this collaboration are similar to the deal Roche struck with ArQule
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Merck is one of Mathew Emmert's Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. To learn more, take a free, no-obligation trial today.
Fool contributor Charly Travers owns shares of Vertex Pharmaceuticals and ArQule.