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Life sciences firm inks licensing deal with Merck

February 25, 2016
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A life sciences firm in the region has entered into a licensing agreement with a global pharmaceutical company.

AureoGen Biosciences of Kalamazoo said yesterday that it has struck a deal with Merck of Kenilworth, New Jersey, which will allow Merck to use the firm’s proprietary chemistry and compounds for the development of medicines for infectious disease, including systemic fungal infections.

Under the agreement, Merck receives exclusive rights to novel derivatives of the antifungal compound aureobasidin A, made by AureoGen, as well as additional derivatives generated using AureoGen's chemistry platform.

AureoGen will receive an upfront payment and is eligible to receive milestone payments based on progress and regulatory approvals related to Merck's development of drug candidates, using AureoGen's chemistry and/or compounds.

AureoGen is also eligible to receive royalties from commercial sales of approved products derived from the agreement.

AureoGen said its proprietary chemistry allows for specific functionalization of pharmacologically essential elements in the aureobasidin A structure, and using this chemistry, the compound can be modified to generate derivatives with improved activity against fungal pathogens.

Most notably, the company said the chemistry has allowed the synthesis of derivatives with considerably improved activity against yeasts and molds, including Aspergillus fumigatus, a mold organism causing difficult-to-treat infections that is becoming increasingly resistant to azole antifungals.

Dr. Ake Elhammer, CEO of AureoGen Biosciences, said the firm is “very pleased” with the agreement.

“It will allow for efficient and rapid development of novel drugs for a market with a very immediate unmet medical need,” Elhammer said.

Elhammer also said the agreement will allow for a “broadening of AureoGen's continued R&D efforts” in the anti-infectives area.

"Merck's demonstrated leadership in antifungal R&D and in the marketing of antifungal drugs makes the company an ideal partner for the development of novel drugs based on AureoGen's aureobasidin A chemistry,” Elhammer said.

Todd Black, Ph.D., executive director, Infectious Diseases, Merck Research Laboratories, said Merck is “committed to advancing meaningful therapeutic options to address serious infectious diseases.”

AureoGen started at the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, a life sciences incubator/accelerator in Kalamazoo. 

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