The two firms will focus on lead discovery and lead optimisation in cancer metabolism
Merck Serono and Polish biotechnology firm Selvita are collaborating to jointly discover small molecule-based drugs for multiple indications in cancer. The partners plan to target key metabolic pathways involved in sustaining growth and proliferation of cancer cells.
Both companies will contribute their expertise in target validation, bioinformatics, medicinal chemistry, in vitro and in vivo biology and toxicology to the collaboration.
Merck Serono will make milestone payments to Selvita if it initiates development programmes or successfully commercialises collaboration candidates.
'Given the capabilities of Selvita in the area of oncology, we believe that this new partnership will complement our drug discovery efforts, delivering molecules that aim to transform patients' lives,' said Susan Jane Herbert, Executive Vice President, Head of Business Development & Strategy at Merck Serono.
Krzysztof Brzozka, Chief Scientific Officer of Selvita, added: 'Both companies aim at rapid validation of emerging targets through a preclinical proof of concept, followed by translation of the findings into development concepts for potential novel therapies. I believe that the dynamic and innovative environment at both companies guarantees a cutting edge approach for this joint research initiative.'
As part of the research collaboration, Selvita will receive research funding of €2.4m and additional funding for external costs from Merck Serono over the next two years.
Merck Serono will also perform additional research at its own cost within the jointly defined research plan. After the end of the collaboration the firms aim to continue the development of jointly discovered molecules, which may constitute an additional revenue stream for Selvita from development milestones.