Merck & Co. Acquires OncoEthix

Merck & Co. has acquired, through a subsidiary, OncoEthix, a Swiss-based privately held biotechnology company specializing in oncology drug development. Through the acquisition, Merck has gained an investigational, novel oral BET (bromodomain) inhibitor, OTX015, which is currently in Phase Ib studies for the treatment of hematological malignancies and advanced solid tumors.

Financial terms of the acquisition include an upfront payment of up to $110 million to OncoEthix. Additional milestone payments of up to $265 million are contingent upon certain clinical and regulatory events being achieved.

BET proteins are considered potential therapeutic targets in cancer as they play a pivotal role in regulating the transcription of key regulators of cancer cell growth and survival, including c-Myc. Interim data from ongoing Phase I clinical studies of OTX015 have demonstrated meaningful clinical activity in patients with hematological malignancies. Interim data were recently presented at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting in April 2014. An international, open-label Phase I study evaluating OTX015 in five different solid tumors was initiated in November 2014.

Founded in 2009, OncoEthix is a Swiss-based privately held biotechnology company aiming to develop a small portfolio of oncology drug candidates. The company's lead product, OTX015, is an investigational orally administered synthetic small molecule targeted to BET bromodomain proteins 2/3/4. OTX015 was in-licensed from Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation in March 2012 following completion of Phase I clinical studies in healthy volunteers.

Source: Merck & Co.

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