Merck KGaA, Artios partner on DNA damage response drugs

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

December 3, 2020 -- Artios Pharma and Merck KGaA are set to develop multiple cancer drugs aimed at DNA damage response pathways through a new three-year long research and development partnership.

Up to eight drugs will be developed with Artios' nuclease targeting discovery platform, namely its small-molecule ATR inhibitor and a mammalian polymerase theta (Polθ) program. The platform will be used to jointly identify multiple novel synthetic lethal targets for precision oncology drug candidates.

As part of the deal, Germany-based Merck KGaA will get exclusive worldwide rights to some of the drugs developed jointly. Artios will get $30 million in upfront and near-term payments, and up to $860 million in total milestone fees for each target successfully developed. The deal does not include rights to Artios' existing lead programs.

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