CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - November 17, 2003 - GenPath Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a drug discovery and development company focused on the treatment of cancer and other diseases, announced today that it has entered into a multi-year collaborative agreement with Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK). Under the agreement, GenPath will use its proprietary cancer models to identify essential tumor maintenance genes which maybe suitable targets for the development of small molecule oncology agents. GenPath will also use its inducible, spontaneous tumor models to guide candidate drug selection and optimization.
Under the agreement, Merck will have an exclusive option to obtain exclusive worldwide license rights to a specified number of small molecule targets discovered and validated in a selected group of GenPath models. GenPath's models will also be used in downstream drug discovery and optimization activities to guide the selection of the appropriate candidates to move into development. Merck will be responsible for drug discovery, clinical development and commercialization of the resulting products.
Under the terms of the agreement, GenPath will receive a significant upfront payment plus annual research funding, as well as potential milestones and royalties from Merck. Total payments to GenPath by Merck based on the successful commercialization of multiple products resulting from the collaboration, exclusive of royalties, could exceed $100 million.
"Despite recent technological advances, there remains a huge unmet medical need in the treatment of most types of cancer. Merck has made a strategic commitment to address the challenges of developing novel and efficacious therapies in cancer. Our partnership with GenPath, is a very important element of our cancer research strategy," said Stephen Friend, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president, Molecular Profiling and Cancer Research at Merck.
"We are thrilled to be partnering with Merck for the discovery of novel cancer targets," said Tuan Ha-Ngoc, president and CEO of GenPath. "Merck has made an important commitment to the field of cancer research, and shares a common vision with GenPath. This deal is not just about discovering the right targets, but also about utilizing our unique technology to ensure that the most appropriate compounds move into development, and are tested in the appropriate patients. Coming on the heels of our recent $42.7M Series B financing, this partnership indicates the excitement that our technology has generated in both the industry and investment communities," said Ha-Ngoc.
GenPath employs powerful, proprietary genetic model systems to discover and develop drugs against essential targets critical to the origin, maintenance, and spread of malignant tumors. This novel, high-throughput in-vivo pathway technology platform enables the rapid functional prioritization of only the most relevant drug targets, thus dramatically improving the efficiency of drug discovery. In addition, when coupled with high-throughput genomics and bioinformatics, this platform is designed to enhance drug development through the identification of novel biomarkers for both exposure and efficacy endpoints to guide clinical development. Beyond oncology, GenPath's technologies are broadly applicable to other disease states, including cardiovascular, metabolic and neurodegenerative disorders.
GenPath is a privately held company located in Cambridge, Mass. For more information, please visit the company's website at (www.genpathpharma.com).