Merck KGaA Partners with ICR and Wellcome Trust to Develop Anti-Cancer DrugsMerck KGaA have today announced a new partnership with the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and the Wellcome Trust to develop cancer treatments.

Merck KGaA’s Merck Serono unit will work with the UK organisations to identify inhibitors of tankyrase, an enzyme of the poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) enzyme family.

Specifically, the Institute of Cancer Research and Merck Serono will work together with the aim of progressing chemical compounds that have emerged from both organisations’ tankyrase inhibitor programs towards clinical development.  Merck Serono will then take over full responsibility for the selected clinical development candidate, with the goal of bringing a new cancer therapeutic drug to patients.

Dr. Chris Lord, Team Leader in the Division of Breast Cancer Research at The Institute of Cancer Research, noted that “Tankyrase inhibitors provide a unique opportunity to target one of the most common characteristics of cancer cells - their dependency on the so-called ‘Wnt signaling’ pathway.”

Head of the translational innovation platform oncology at Merck Serono, Andree Blaukat, commented that the partnerships aims “to harness the already well-advanced tankyrase programmes” at both ICR and within Merck Serono to “translate these into novel treatment options for cancer patients.”

Blaukat added that the collaboration “will build on a joint compound base of potent tankyrase inhibitors and will leverage both sites’ scientific knowledge about the ‘Wnt pathway’ that plays a major role in signal transduction for tumour growth.”

The collaboration will be jointly funded by Merck Serono and the Wellcome Trust.  Additional financial details have not been disclosed but Merck Serono will make milestone payments, in addition to paying royalties.

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